The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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The Suns Reality Check

The Phoenix Suns had been living a charmed life until reality came crashing down on them Wednesday night.

Entering the game against the Boston Celtics, the Suns had fought their way to the #1 seed in the West, won 9 of 14 games without Chris Paul and Cam Johnson and at times looked every bit the NBA title contender that I thought they weren't when the season started.

This happened despite the aforementioned injuries, a team sponsored paid vacation/holdout from Jae Crowder and a deeper field of stars and team in the NBA than we've seen in a long time.

The on Wednesday night, the Suns were reminded that good times rarely last only good teams do and they looked anything but against the Celtics.

Boston exposed a deep flaw within the Suns finely tuned winning machine: a lack of depth.

The Celtics and Suns started the game trading buckets and the Suns largely nursed a very slim lead. Deandre Ayton was able to take advantage of his size advantage inside and Chris Paul was back to doing Chris Paul things. As soon as the Suns went to their bench, the Celtics pounced. The Suns slim lead evaporated and within a few, short minutes Boston had a double digit lead they would never surrender.

While Boston's rotation was without Al Hordord and Robert Williams, they still were able to bring Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White off the bench for some much needed scoring and defensive depth.

The Suns continue to rely on Cam Payne, Landry Shamet, Damion Lee and Jock Landale to carry the load off the bench. None of those four players would crack the Celtics top 9. For the Suns, each is being asked to be a Sixth Man of the Year quality role player.

While the Suns starting five when healthy is a well oiled winning machine, their bench is the stick in the spokes of that machine.

For a few weeks, the Suns might've convinced themselves that their bench was good enough. The Celtics not so gently reminded them that championship caliber teams go longer than 5 deep.

It felt like the worst night of the season for the Suns but if that wakeup call prompts the Suns to finally, seriously address their bench, it could turn into the best night of the season for the Suns.

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