The Phoenix Suns were the number-one team in the West coming into last night’s big marquee matchup with the league-leading Boston Celtics.
The matchup was a possible Finals preview, but only one team looked like a team primed for the Finals on this night.
Big games tend to scare off the Suns from competing to the level they are capable of, they roll through the teams that are inferior, and when the league’s best come to play whether at home or on the road, this team backs down to the challenge.
A vibe reminiscent of game seven in the Western Conference Finals that ended last season’s run, the Suns looked very disinterested in playing this game.
The Boston Celtics are a team on a mission and have a look in their eye that any team that tries to get in their way will suffer the consequences, and the Suns were just another team in the wake of the Lepricon steamroll.
It is very unclear as to what causes the Suns to fall back into a very lethargic state at home in front of their own crowd in such a big game, perhaps they are a team without that guy that will stand and throw a punch back when the team is getting beat physically.
The Suns lack that enforcer that Jae Crowder brings to the table, once the Celtics punched them in the mouth the Suns gave up their lunch money and ran home with their tails between their legs.
Everything just seems to come to an abrupt halt when the Suns are at their worse, they can’t shoot, rebound, or even simply hustle to a ball when it’s directly in front of them.
The Suns defense is the main key to why they can’t hang in a game of this magnitude, instead of staying in front of their man, everyone is reaching and fouling their assignment, and then turning to the refs and crying that they didn’t foul.
A very pathetic performance to say the least, and to add insult to injury, the Suns fans must have known that this outcome was inevitable because most of them decided not to show for this game as the building was almost filled with Celtic fans.
At one point in through three quarters, the Suns were 2-22 from the three-point line and were never in the game after they led 16-13 early.
Boston came in with a serious look to their approach to this game, much like a statement being made to the best in the West that they were not on the same level and would not stand a chance in a Finals matchup.
The start of the game featured star MVP candidate Jason Tatum playing Devin Booker straight up from the jump, and that didn’t allow Booker to find a rhythm in the first quarter, continuing his first-quarter woes from the previous beat down to the Mavericks a few nights earlier.
The Suns got no one to step up to the challenge and physicality of the Celtics, throughout the first few quarters all we saw from the Suns that was consistent was the constant complaining to the referees for calls.
The Celtics manhandled the Suns in every aspect of the game and snatched their hearts out with a barrage of three-point shots and open drives to the hoop leading to a 125-98 victory.
It felt like the Suns were sleepwalking the entire night, and after the game Head Coach Monty Williams just simply said “we just got beat in every aspect of the game” when asked how his team could come out with a performance like that in such a big game.
Often times the players will form the personality of the man that is leading them, and it’s good to not show panic in any situation as a coach, but there is a thin line that has to be crossed when it comes to showing passion and emotion.
Monty Williams needs to show a bit of fight, and direct that toward his players to get them to respond and be ready for the big games because it’s the big games that are going to lead to the title in the end.
The Phoenix Suns may be gaining the reputation of a team that cannot handle big games when it matters, the games that are marquee with a national audience watching, the moment just seem to big for this team and they fold up and covers their head like an Ostrich.
The only way any team can be down by 45 points on their own home floor, is to not give any effort or fight to prevent the other team from outperforming you.
Matching the level of intensity was the start of the fight, when that goes then you end up with the “Q” word to follow, and that is “QUIT” when the going gets rough.
We have seen this team quit and just change its form overnight from a team that competes at a high level defensively, and brings it on offense with great ball movement, to being reduced to a team that forgot how to play the game the right way.
Without speculation, it just feels like, within these moments of games the Suns do not show up to play, it feels like the entire team decides they are not going to play for the coach for whatever reason.
Maybe this type of result will take GM James Jones out of his calm manner and get ready to finally move Crowder for a good piece to come in and make a difference in how this team will be towards the ultimate goal.