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Playoffs 2023: What are the expectations for the Suns?

The Suns’ window of contention doesn’t close this year, but let’s not fool ourselves...less than a championship would be disappointing.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA championships are hard to win. Really hard. Some really, REALLY good teams have come up short over the years, including a number of iterations of the Phoenix Suns that came agonizingly close to breaking through and just didn’t get the break they needed when they needed it.

One could reasonably argue that any deep postseason run is a successful season, even if the ending wasn’t what you dreamed. When it comes to the 2023 Suns, though, let’s get real: a championship is the only true goal.

The Suns won’t vanish as contenders after this season. As old as Kevin Durant may be, he’s still got a lot of buckets left in him. Chris Paul’s days may be ending, but a reasonably savvy front office can deal with that situation. The Suns will still have Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, a couple of pretty good building blocks in their primes.

But this isn’t a team “building” to something. Every key player has been to the Finals before, and Durant is already a champion with the Golden State Warriors. This is a seasoned team with some key players past their primes.

The Suns went all in with the deal to bring Durant to Phoenix. Whether you agreed or not, there was a legitimate case to be made for building around Booker, Ayton, and Mikal Bridges. That’s history now. Bridges and Cam Johnson are Brooklyn Nets, and the Suns are making their “win now” play.

Is there a team in the NBA we think the Suns should definitely lose to in a seven game series? I don’t think so. The Nuggets and Grizzlies are tough, yeah. The Bucks, Sixers, and Celtics are tough. Losing to any of those teams wouldn’t be stunning or upend the basketball media.

But it would be a failure. A failure to realize the promise of a team wielding two transcendent scorers and an all-time great playmaking point guard. A failure to compensate the thousands of Suns fans who had come to love Bridges and Johnson, and who are still in mourning over their sudden departure for the Big Apple.

But mostly it would be yet another failure to move the Suns into the column of teams who finished their seasons with a championship. Another failure to heal the broken hearts of fans sick of being not quite good enough. Another failure to give Suns fans SOMETHING to hold over the heads of obnoxious Lakers fans, if only for one season.

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair. Winning an NBA champion is awfully hard. I acknowledge that.

Life’s not fair. Go win. Go Suns.

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