After years of disappointment and heartbreak, the Phoenix Suns finally made some noise in the postseason, making a run to the NBA Finals before losing in six games to the Milwaukee Bucks.
After working for months to put themselves in a position to win the Championship, it must have been crushing to drop the ball so close to the completion of their mission.
Weeks later, with Phoenix back at the drawing board, they are already focused on next year's run. Still, it's hard not to think about how close they came to hoisting that Larry O'Brien trophy.
In fact, had Devin Booker not suffered an injury in Game 3, they might have actually pulled it off.
(via ESPN’s Arian Wojnarowski)
“People didn’t know that Book [Devin Booker] was dealing with a hamstring deal in Game 3 and he got all kinds of flak for what he couldn’t do,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “What people didn’t understand is he was basically playing out there on one leg. Those guys, because they are tough and never want to rely on excuses, would never say anything.
That part bothered me because I heard all the stuff that was said about Devin and Chris [Paul] in the Finals.”
Book fired up a lot of critics after his Game 3 performance, where he dropped just 10 points on 3-14 shooting. Phoenix lost that game by 20 points.
Had Booker been healthy, maybe he plays like himself. Maybe the Suns go up 3-0. Maybe they win the title. At this point, we'll never know for sure what would have happened in this alternate reality.
What we do know, however, is that the Suns aren't going anywhere. With the feeling of a crushing defeat still in the air for the entire team, they will come out next season with a massive chip on their shoulder, ready to prove that they can close the deal with the guys they've got.
It remains to be seen how the next campaign will end for the Suns. But, fully healthy, there's no reason to think they aren't capable of great things.