For the second year running, the Phoenix Suns have been blown out of the Western Conference semifinals as they fell to a 125-100 defeat against Nikola Jokić and the Denver Nuggets.
In a series which many predicted would contain the eventual winner of the Western Conference, only one team showed up in the deciding game – that was the Nuggets, who wrapped the series up 4-2.
Jokić excelled once again and continued his incredible playoff run – putting up 32 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds – in aan impressive performance.
‘The Joker’ set the tone from the off and torched the Suns in the first quarter. The two-time MVP scored or assisted on 26 points in the opening 12 minutes – the Suns had just 26 points as a team.
The Nuggets took a 44-26 lead after the first and never looked back.
Jokić controlled the game with his triple-double and with Jamal Murray and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope contributing over 20 points each, the Nuggets eased their way to victory.
The result, and particularly the performance, will be a concern to Suns fans as many will feel it is a repeat of Phoenix’s horrific Game 7 display last year.
In 2022, it was the Dallas Mavericks who blew out the Suns with a 123-90 win in a crucial playoff tie, and once again the Suns have not been able to produce in a win-or-go-home game.
Devin Booker struggled with his shot and could only muster up 12 points in his 36 minutes on the court. Kevin Durant was also far from his best in a disappointing night for the Suns franchise.
“It was a bad feeling,” Durant told reporters after the game. “It was embarrassing. They came out and got us in the mouth and we couldn’t recover.”
Cameron Payne, who surprisingly led the Suns in scoring, also told reporters: “I wish it would have been at least closer. Of course, I want to win, but this just doesn’t look good.”
Denver head coach Michael Malone was full of praise for this team after the series win.
“When we defend, when we rebound, when we run, when we share the ball, we all believe we’re the best team in the NBA,” he told reporters after the game.
Elsewhere in the playoffs, the Boston Celtics clinched a Game 6 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, despite not having home court advantage.
The Celtics ground out a 95-86 win to ensure the series goes back to Boston for Game 7 in a brilliant team performance on the road.
The series decider should be an incredible matchup with both teams looking to right some wrongs from previous years, and it seems the Sixers are up for the challenge.
“If I have to go to war on the road, Game 7 in Boston, I would want to go with this group,” Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey told reporters. “I know we’ve got some fighters, I know we’ve got some resilient guys. I’m ready to get it on.”
Game 7 will take place Sunday with the time unconfirmed awaiting the result of Game 6 from the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors series.