Kevin Durant dubbed the Phoenix Suns’ playoff exit as “embarrassing” as they suffered a both comprehensive and decisive defeat to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of their Western Conference semi-final series.
The Suns were blown out 125-100 on Thursday night as Nikola Jokic starred with a 32-point triple-double to send Denver to the Conference Finals for the first time since 2020.
For Phoenix it marked another premature exit amid what has been deemed something of a Championship window for the team, a season on from losing to the Dallas Mavericks at the same stage of the playoffs and two seasons after their NBA Finals defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“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.”
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The Suns’ Championship aspirations had been boosted further earlier this season when Durant arrived via a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, uniting him with Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
He now turns his attention to next season as he continues his search for a third Championship ring, his two previous wins coming in his time with 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.”
Suns head coach Monty Williams shouldered the blame for his team’s performance, which had generated boos from the home Phoenix crowd in light of a 30-point half-time deficit.
The Suns had been missing starters in Paul and Deandre Ayton due to injury.
“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,” said Williams.
“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.”
Watch the Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors in Game 6 live on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event from 3am in the early hours of Saturday