13 May, 2023
As a result of a heartbreaking loss to the Nuggets on Thursday night (125-100), Kevin Durant and the Suns’ season came to an end.
The Lakers will take on the winner of the Warriors’ series against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, which the Nuggets won 4-2.
Midway through the season, Durant was acquired by the Suns in a trade, and the squad appeared to be set up for a run to the NBA Finals.
“I always knew how great he was…I wasn’t surprised at all…he’ll go down as one of the all-time great centers that ever touched a basketball”
Kevin Durant on Nikola Jokic pic.twitter.com/vmwqNL53Cw
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 12, 2023
The Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns got off to a poor start in Game 6, but things picked up as the first quarter went on. The score was 23-24 in Phoenix’s advantage with just under four minutes left in the first. The Nuggets entered the second quarter leading 44-26 thanks to the combined 31 points of Nikola Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope while limiting Devin Booker and Kevin Durant to a combined seven points on 2-of-13 shooting.
When the Nuggets starters returned to the game in the second quarter, the Suns attempted to reduce the margin but it just grew. The Nuggets would answer with two of their own after each successful shot by the Suns. On one end, they were playing swarming defense, and on the other, they were operating at a practically faultless pace. The Nuggets were in the lead 81-51 at the break despite shooting only 61.7 percent from the floor and only four three-pointers in the opening period. The Suns needed tremendous second halves from Durant and Booker to bring the game back into their favor after they combined for 19 points on 6-of-23 shooting from the field in the first half.
The third quarter for the Nuggets began similarly to the second after the halftime break. They took a while to get going offensively, and the Suns were gradually reentering the contest. They were reducing the deficit and putting pressure on the Nuggets to make poor shots. The Nuggets went on a late run in the third quarter while Jokic was sitting on the bench, and they entered the fourth quarter leading 103-76, 12 minutes away from sealing a trip to the Conference Finals.
The Suns started the fourth with some fire as the game entered its final frame, hoping to pull off the miraculous comeback in this one. With just over six minutes left in the game, it appeared as though the Suns were surrendering as Durant and Booker both took a seat on the bench. The Nuggets kept chugging along on offense. The Nuggets were only steadily salting this one away while the Suns kept adding scores to the scoreboard. They would travel to the Conference Finals, where they would face the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors, depending on the outcome of the series. The Nuggets were ahead by 22 with just under three minutes remaining in the game, had already substituted out the most of their players, and were about to declare the game over. By a score of 125-100, the Nuggets would secure their series triumph.
Points: Nikola Jokic – 32
Assists: Nikola Jokic – 12
Rebounds: Jokic – 10
Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 32 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block 13-of-18 field goal, 0-of-1 3-point, 6-of-6 free throw