The Phoenix Suns are on the doorstep of securing the first NBA title in franchise history. However, the Suns‘ playoff journey to the NBA Finals has come with pushback due to facing opponents in each round dealing with significant injuries. With that in mind, star guard Devin Booker finally fired back at the outside noise.
Suns criticized for the path to the 2021 NBA Finals
The Suns scrapped through to earn their first trip to the NBA Finals in 28 years.
However, Phoenix’s journey has come with some criticism as the team went through the first three rounds against Western Conference opponents dealing with significant injuries. The first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers featured Anthony Davis hampered by an ailment. He was around three months removed from returning from an Achilles-related calf issue.
The star big man also suffered a groin injury in Game 4 of the series that forced him to miss Game 5 and play only five minutes in Game 6. Meanwhile, LeBron James played at less than full strength as he was bothered by lingering problems connected to a high ankle sprain that forced him to miss nearly six weeks.
The Western Conference semifinals matchup against the Denver Nuggets saw the Suns compete against a team without its second-leading scorer in Jamal Murray due to a torn ACL. Although Murray suffered the injury well before the playoffs, his absence was immense as he brings an entirely different offensive element to the table alongside league MVP Nikola Jokic.
Lastly, the Los Angeles Clippers reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time. However, the team played the entire series against the Suns without Kawhi Leonard due to a knee injury. Despite that, the Clippers managed to push the series to six games.
All those factors created a less-than-positive narrative around Phoenix’s playoff run, which Booker fired back a stern response.
Devin Booker fires back at haters criticizing the Suns’ path to the NBA Finals
Throughout the playoffs, the Suns have heard all the outside noise bashing the legitimacy of the team’s push to the NBA Finals due to facing short-handed opponents.
During Monday’s press conference before Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals against the Bucks, Devin Booker responded to the chatter by stating his team doesn’t have to answer or justify their playoff path.
“We’re not here to justify what we’re doing to anyone else for real,” Booker said. “We have had goals and aspirations for this group since Day 1. We keep those in home for a reason. We compete against each other and we are on the constant pursuit to get better every day.”
Although there is much credence to the chatter regarding the injuries, Booker and the Suns have handled business. Phoenix has made the most of the opportunity, pushing its way toward being four wins away from securing an NBA title. All those criticism concern factors the team holds no control over with the health of the opponent.
The Suns can only impact how the team performs against the challenge ahead, which will begin on Tuesday night.
Phoenix labeled the slight NBA Finals favorites
Before the Suns play Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the betting odds hold slight favoritism toward the franchise.
Phoenix enters the series with momentum after a strong showing in the Western Conference Finals against the Clippers. Chris Paul is coming off an incredible close-out performance in Game 6 behind 41 points. Meanwhile, Booker figures to be a prominent offensive factor against the Bucks.
Milwaukee enters the NBA Finals with Giannis Antetokounmpo dealing with a hyperextended knee that may force him to miss Game 1. His possible absence places tremendous pressure on Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez to pick up the slack.
At this point, there is no clarity when Antetokounmpo will return and how effective he will be once he does. Nonetheless, the matchup will feature two teams with little championship history armed with plenty of motivation to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.