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During the final stages of their Western Conference semifinal loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Phoenix Suns were reported to have dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to Sam Amic and Joe Fardon of The Athletic, six people from the Suns have tested positive for COVID-19 either late in the second round of the playoffs or the day after the team’s 123-90 defeat in Game 7 at home.
Suns assistant Bryan Gates tested positive after match 6, preventing him from training in game 7, while an unnamed player reportedly tested positive the day after match 7.
Reportedly, the other four people who tested positive for COVID-19 were Suns support staff.
Several people within the Suns organization have reportedly indicated they were not feeling well before Game 7, which led to questions about whether the Suns followed protocols by testing everyone who had symptoms of COVID-19.
While The Suns declined public comment, they privately insisted that they follow protocols, according to Amick and Vardon. Additionally, an NBA spokesperson said, “The NBA has not seen any evidence to suggest any violations of the rules by players or staff at the Suns.”
A source close to the Mavericks told The Athletic that they were concerned about COVID-19 during the series after hearing grumblings early in Game 5 that the Suns were dealing with the outbreak.
With a 64-18 record, the Suns were the best NBA team during the regular season by a large margin, and entered the playoffs as the favorites to win the championship.
The Phoenix was widely expected to at least make it to the NBA Finals, having gone that far the previous season before losing to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Instead, the team blew up a 2-0 and 3-2 lead streak, allowing the Mavericks to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
It’s unclear if COVID-19 played any role in the Suns’ Game 7’s performance, but they haven’t played anything like the team that dominated the NBA during the regular season.
Phoenix let Luka Doncic out with 35 points in the decisive game and had none of his players score more than 12 points.
Devin Booker had a particularly tough game, scoring just 11 points on a 3-of-14 shootout.
The Suns should be a force again next season because they’re pretty much on the same roster if they re-sign Deandre Ayton center in a restricted free agency, but it’s undeniable that their 2021-22 campaign ended in bitter disappointment.