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Why Phoenix Suns should be upset with how NBA Playoffs are unfolding

As if being the first team eliminated from the postseason in a sweep wasn't bad enough for the Phoenix Suns.

The No. 3-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, which eliminated Phoenix, will face the No. 5 Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals starting Wednesday, while the top-seeded Boston Celtics take on the No. 6 Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals starting Tuesday.

Here are some reasons why the Suns should be upset with how the NBA playoffs have unfolded:

Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) drives past Boston Celticsforward Jayson Tatum (0) at Footprint Center in Phoenix on March 9, 2024.
Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) drives past Boston Celticsforward Jayson Tatum (0) at Footprint Center in Phoenix on March 9, 2024.

Phoenix handled T-Wolves, Nuggets

The T-Wolves swept the Suns in the first round after going 0-3 against Phoenix in the regular season. They’re now in the conference finals for the first time in 20 years after stunning Denver in Game 7 Sunday at Ball Arena.

The Suns went 2-1 against the Nuggets in the regular season with both wins coming on the road. Minnesota took three out of four games in Denver in eliminating the defending NBA champions.

The Pacers are a sixth seed out of the East as they finished the regular season with a 47-35 record. The Suns were a sixth seed in the West with a 49-33 record in the regular season.

Just three years ago, Phoenix was in the NBA Finals. That same season, Dallas and Boston fell in the first round to the Clippers in seven and the Nets in five, respectively, when Suns superstar Kevin Durant was in Brooklyn while Indiana and Minnesota didn’t even make the playoffs.

Mavs, Pacers midseason trades paid off; Suns' move didn't

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and P.J. Washington #25 celebrate after their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 18, 2024, in Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and P.J. Washington #25 celebrate after their win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 18, 2024, in Dallas, Texas.

The Mavs and Pacers made game-changing trades right before this season's trade deadline.

Dallas acquired P.J. Washington from the Charlotte Hornets and Daniel Gafford from the Washington Wizards. Washington and Gafford are starters and have been productive in the postseason.

Washington was the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder in the conference semifinals against No. 1 seed Oklahoma City, as he shot a ridiculous 46.9% from 3 while Gafford averaged 11 points on 61% shooting and 7.5 rebounds in the series.

Pascal Siakam #43 of the Indiana Pacers drives to the basket during the second quarter against the New York Knicks in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 14, 2024, in New York City.
Pascal Siakam #43 of the Indiana Pacers drives to the basket during the second quarter against the New York Knicks in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 14, 2024, in New York City.

The Pacers landed Pascal Siakam in a trade with Toronto in January. Immediately blending and bringing championship experience, Siakam averaged 21.3 points in the regular season in 41 games with the Pacers and 21.2 points in 12 playoff games with them. He won a championship with the Raptors in the 2018-19 season.

The Suns traded four players — Chimezie Metu, Yuta Watanabe, Jordan Goodwin and Keita Bates-Diop — for Royce O’Neale and David Roddy.

Roddy hardly played while O’Neale averaged just five points in the playoffs on 31.8% shooting. The Suns could bring back O’Neale as he’s an unrestricted free agent, but didn’t make the kind of impact on the Suns that Gafford and Washington have in Dallas and Siakam in Indiana.

Two more for Suns fans

Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) watches the ball Friday, May 17, 2024, during the eastern conference semifinals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks, 116-103.
Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) watches the ball Friday, May 17, 2024, during the eastern conference semifinals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks, 116-103.

The Suns drafted Deandre Ayton instead of Luka Doncic with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft and took Jalen Smith instead of Tyrese Haliburton with the 10th overall pick in 2020. The Kings chose Haliburton 12th overall.

Doncic is a superstar for the Mavs, Haliburton is leading the Pacers while Ayton is in Portland, which posted the worst record in the West, and Smith is seeing scrap minutes for the Pacers.

Lastly, T.J. McConnell has always been a player Suns fans have wanted them to land after he starred in college at Arizona. With the Suns not having a true point guard this season, McConnell's name came up even more.

Now Charles Barkley is saying on television McConnell has earned his respect after the Pacers' backup point guard came up big in the conference semifinals against the Knicks. Averaging a playoff career-high 10.7 points and 5.2 assists, McConnell battled defending Jalen Brunson in giving the Pacers big minutes off the bench.

Have opinions about the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @DuaneRankin.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Why Phoenix Suns should be upset with how NBA Playoffs are unfolding