The Phoenix Suns, who were among the favorites to win the West after acquiring Kevin Durant earlier in the season, were eliminated in the Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive season.
The Phoenix Suns’ elimination from the playoffs was described as “embarrassing” by Kevin Durant after they lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of their Western Conference semi-final series.
On Thursday, Nikola Jokic led the way with a 32-point triple-double to help Denver advance to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2020, crushing the Suns 125-100.
It was another early exit for Phoenix during what has been described as a championship window for the team, following losses to the Dallas Mavericks at the same level of the playoffs and the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals two seasons prior.
“It sucked. It was a bad feeling. It was embarrassing,” Durant said post-game. “They came out and hit us in the mouth. We couldn’t recover. You got to give them credit for being a disciplined team.”
When Durant was acquired through trade from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this season, joining Devin Booker and Chris Paul, the Suns’ chances of winning the championship were substantially enhanced.
He now focuses on the upcoming season as he pursues his quest for a third championship ring; his two previous victories came while he was a member of the Golden State Warriors.
“I just try to control what I can, which is, you know, working extremely hard and putting a lot of preparation into the game and my skill and then just being present for the organisation wherever they need me at any point,” he said.
“Just making sure my phone is open and, you know, the dialog is there. So I’m sure we’ll check in with each other throughout the whole summer. But I just think my job is to continue to keep getting better and keep finding ways to get better as a player.”
With his side trailing by 30 points at the half, Suns head coach Monty Williams took the fall for his team’s performance, which drew jeers from the Phoenix audience.
Paul and Deandre Ayton, starters for the Suns, had been sidelined by injuries.
“81 points in the first half was deflating, to just see them score like that and running down the floor getting easy buckets. That falls on my shoulders – not having us ready to play at the highest level in the biggest game of the year. Bottom line,” Williams said.
“The next 24 hours will be what you can imagine. You don’t feel that great. I take that personally, not having our team ready to play in the biggest game of the year. That’s something that I pride myself on and it just didn’t happen tonight. So that’s something that I have to really take a deep look at everything I’m doing to allow us to be successful on these days.”