Suns turned Game 2 of a playoff game into a house party

Phoenix Suns goalie Devin Booker (1) celebrates in the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo / Matt York)

The Suns are full of altruistic players. Wednesday, they became greedy. They turned a playoff game into a house party. Don’t bother knocking.

Not so long ago, the Suns looked their worst when they were selfless or distracted by a marginalized opponent. No more. Not a night when the whole world was watching, when there were no other NBA games on the menu.

Towards the end of this intoxicating 123-98 eruption, the partisan crowd unveiled a new chant:

“Suns in four! Suns in four!

“We just talked about being relentless in everything we do,” said Suns head coach Monty Williams.

They succeeded.

The Suns are also a team that has scorned the idea of ​​load management during the regular season, the controversial policy of resting healthy players for long-term gain. But in that landslide win over the Nuggets, the Suns put themselves in a great position to bite down on a lesser opponent, getting precious rest during the playoffs, when it really matters.

If previous playoff wins were a tribute to a new home advantage, Wednesday’s victory was a testament to a deeply connected basketball team. Once considered a title contender because of their two closest superstars (Devin Booker and Chris Paul), the Suns are emerging as a juggernaut of camaraderie, balance and ball movement.

Mikal Bridges forged his exceptional performance in the first game. As a reminder, it was Dario Saric who found his rhythm, much to the delight of another rabid crowd at the Phoenix Suns Arena.

Saric’s status has plummeted in recent weeks, just as Ayton has risen. It’s a testament to Saric’s professionalism he was ready to face the moment Wednesday, giving the Suns a solid block of minutes in Game 2 after being forced into hard work.

Saric took shots, dived on an assist from Paul, delivered smart passes and held on against Nikola Jokic. Suddenly the biggest fear on the planet Orange (fault for Deandre Ayton) was just another speed bump.

The Suns have won five straight playoff games. Their average margin of victory keeps increasing. In eight playoff games, eight of their rotating players have all posted signing games. The starting five has scored in double digits in consecutive games, with no member attempting more than 14 shots. This is why the Suns feel so dangerous. They are proof that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. And the Nuggets can feel it.

“They have great chemistry together there,” said Torrey Craig. “You can see it. The ball is moving. Everyone knows their spots and shots. Yes, their chemistry is unreal and (the starting five) are playing at a high level right now.

Williams said, “I think it’s a selfless group. They are ready to play for each other. We share the ball. It’s part of our DNA.

Denver head coach Michael Malone went to great lengths to inspire his team after Game 1, criticizing their mental toughness. The Nuggets responded with two free throw attempts in the first half.

They look like a beaten team. Like a team that knows it is outclassed without Jamal Murray, injured. Like a team that feels grateful to have even reached this point.

After the game, Malone doubled down on his criticism, saying his team had given up.

This is why the Suns must continue to leap. The Suns are the rare Arizona team to have a real chance to land the holy grail in the brass ring. They must stay focused at high altitude and finish off an injured opponent.

In the NBA playoffs, a short streak is golden. After Wednesday’s lopsided performance, the Suns are currently on HOV lane for the Western Conference Finals. And with a win in Denver, they’ll display another championship trait:

The ability to stop at a rest area on the long journey to a championship, making their life easier and the road smoother.

Contact Bickley at [email protected] Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Arizona Sports Station 98.7 FM.

About Paul Cox

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