The Suns dealt with the COVID outbreak during the West’s semi-finals, with at least one player testing positive, according to the report.

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A number of theories and reports have hinted at what may have gone wrong for the Phoenix Suns when they collapsed in the second round of the postseason against the Dallas Mavericks. Chris Paul may or may not be injured. DeAndre Ayton may or may not be compatible with Head Coach Monty Williams. But on Wednesday, The Athletic reported a new wrinkle in the Phoenix breakdown: The team appears to have been dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

A total of six individuals, including one player, tested positive for COVID-19 in the days before or the day after defeating Phoenix’s Game 7. The only person named among them was assistant coach Brian Gates, who missed Game 7. The Suns did not give in-person interviews after the loss to Dallas, and instead relied on Zoom.

The Suns declined to comment, but privately insisted that there was no breach of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. “I think it’s very clear that no one wants to report anything,” said a source familiar with The Suns’ positive tests and who was not authorized to speak about them publicly. “And this is where the untouchability becomes.” A spokesperson added, “The NBA has not seen any evidence to suggest any violations of the rules by Suns players or staff.”

The Suns lost Chris Paul to health and safety protocols before the first game of the 2021 Western Conference Finals last season, and he ultimately missed two games. However, the league’s testing system has changed dramatically this season. Teams are now expected to test individuals only if they have symptoms. That’s how players like Al Horford, Paul George and Zach LaVine have missed their post-season games this season.

Without knowing the full extent of the outbreak, it’s impossible to know how much it has affected the Suns as they lost the last two games of their second-round series to Dallas. In the end, it’s possible that this was just one of many factors that led to Phoenix’s defeat, but at least, it does offer some semblance of explanation for one of the most unexpected Game 7 outbursts in NBA history.

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