Losing to Denver in the playoffs is not something to be ashamed of, but the Phoenix Suns did themselves no favors in the playoffs, and Monty Williams should take much of the blame.
Another season of basketball is over badly, with the Phoenix Suns again being embarrassed on their own home floor when everything mattered most. After dropping back-to-back blowouts to end last season to the Dallas Mavericks, to experience a similar, dispirited, embarrassing exit is simply unacceptable. While our superstars faded from fatigue, the mismanagement of the squad set the Suns up for disaster from game one of round one.
The playoffs are no time to experiment, yet Williams did with the Suns
The Phoenix Suns were unbeaten, with Kevin Durant as part of the team was defeated before they even took the floor in the postseason. Phoenix knew Durant was injured when James Jones and new owner Matt Ishbia made the trade for him, but his freak injury during warm-ups of his first home game was nothing anyone could have predicted.
Ultimately, injuries limited KD to only eight regular-season appearances with Phoenix, given all eight were wins, at least the results were strong despite the small sample size. Then, with the postseason, Williams decided it was time to change. Instead of sticking with the only starting line-up Durant had been a part of, Williams changed the starting five for game one.
The change results were positive for Torrey Craig, who had the best game of his career, but were disastrous for the team, with the Suns losing game one and Josh Okogie losing his confidence. Instead of having a hot scoring wing coming off his bench in Craig – who did finish the regular season well – Phoenix had no bench, and suddenly, Landry Shamet was expected to be a difference maker. Worse, Okogie, who was instrumental during the regular season, never regained his confidence the entire postseason.
Before the first shot, before the first pass, before the first tip-off of the postseason for Phoenix, Williams had already destroyed his rotation, and the Suns never got it back. This odd decision is one question Williams, likely along with Jones, will have to answer to the new ownership, but it is not the only one.