The Phoenix Suns took the floor on Wednesday, March 29 for a Western Conference showdown against the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the game had massive playoff implications, the buzz in the building was focused on the home debut of superstar forward Kevin Durant. Even Durant was quick to admit that he was overly excited for his return to the court.
“It was hard for me to get sleep today, it was hard for me to stop thinking about the game,” Durant said. “Sometimes you can want it too bad and you come out, start rushing and being uncharacteristic.”
Suns fans had waited over a month to get the opportunity to see Durant play a game in Phoenix after being acquired in a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. It was an emotional night for all parties, including Durant who showed some rust and fatigue throughout the night. He would go on to miss his first six shots before finishing 5-of-18 from the field. Despite his off night shooting, Phoenix went on to pick up a crucial 107-100 win against the Timberwolves.
Phoenix big man Deandre Ayton spoke to Duane Rankin of AZCentral.com after the game about KD’s performance. Ayton was asked if he believed that Durant seemed overly excited or nervous heading into the game. Ayton agreed with the question before joking with reporters to not repeat what he said to his teammate.
“Yeah, he did. Don’t tell him I said, but he did,” Ayton said. “You could tell there was a little fatigue as well. The emotion. He got teammates, we’re dogs. We’re going to cover up for you.”
Phoenix Picks Up Impressive Win Despite Durant’s Off Night
The spotlight was shining on Durant’s return to the floor ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Timberwolves. But the bigger story of the game was Phoenix’s need to maintain positioning with the playoffs looming.
After last night’s victory over Minnesota, Phoenix has now prevented a potential headache when it comes to the standings in the Western Conference. The team has won three straight games and are slowly starting to put the pieces together.
Phoenix finds itself with an overall record of 41-35 on the year, placing them in fourth place in the West. With a number of Western Conference teams picking up wins last night, the Suns were in danger of closing the gap from potentially falling to as low as seventh place.
Winning cures everything in the NBA and that’s just the case with last night’s result for the Suns. Phoenix remains half a game up of the Los Angeles Clippers for fourth place with just six games left in the season.
Despite an off shooting night for Durant, the superstar forward still delivered when the team needed him to. Durant finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists on the night. He was even high spirits during postgame interviews, especially when asked why he decided to change his shoes at halftime.
“Yeah, because I was 1-for-8.”
Suns Prepare for Friday Night Clash With Denver Nuggets
One of the biggest challenges remaining on Phoenix’s schedule has been conquered. But another daunting task will present itself this Friday, March 31.
Phoenix will get prepared for a home matchup against the Denver Nuggets, who find themselves atop the Western Conference standings with a 51-24 lead. Denver has been one of the most impressive teams in the NBA throughout the regular season. For the Suns, it will present an opportunity for the team to measure up against one of the top teams in the West.
The night could present a potential preview of a Western Conference playoffs showdown, as both teams are built to have an extended run in the postseason. Denver has been on a roll of their own, winning their last four games. The good news for the Suns is that the Nuggets will be playing Friday on the second night of a back-to-back. Denver is set to take on the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday before a quick turnaround to face the Suns the next night.