November 28, 2022

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Here are the Phoenix Suns’ most notable playoff elimination games

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The Phoenix Suns will return to Footprint Center on Sunday for a Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks after a 113-86 loss in Game 6 on Thursday.

The Western Conference Semifinals have seen the home team take each of the first six games, but the 27-point loss has some feeling unnerved around the Valley.

In nine Game 7s throughout their history, Phoenix has gone 4-5 with a chance to advance in the playoffs since 1969-70.

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable elimination game matchups across the franchise’s history, including one Game 5 to remember:

2005-06 No. 2 seed Round 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Round 2 vs. L.A. Clipeprs

The Suns were led by a crew of Steve Nash, Boris Diaw, Shawn Marion and Tim Thomas. The team also had current general manager James Jones coming off the bench.

The Lakers relied heavily on two men in Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom who combined for 47 points per game.

After winning Game 1, Phoenix dropped three consecutive games and lost Game 4 by one point.

The Suns ended up winning Games 5 and 6 in convincing fashion before sending it back to Phoenix for a win-or-go-home.

Enter, The Brazilian Blur. Guard Leandro Barbosa scored 26 points off the bench for the Suns in a 121-90 rout of the Lakers, completing the 3-1 comeback.

The only problem for Phoenix was that their next series was another marathon in the Staples Center against the Clippers. Phoenix never trailed in the series as each team traded off winning after the Suns won Game 1.

Marion dominated the series, averaging 25.6 points and 12.6 rebounds across the seven games.

Despite L.A. center Elton Brand’s 36 points and seven offensive rebounds, Phoenix demolished the Clippers in another Game 7 127-107 behind Marion’s 30 points.

All seven Suns players that appeared scored in double digits.

Phoenix went on to lose in the Western Conference Finals in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.

1992-93 No. 1 seed Round 3 vs. Seattle SuperSonics

Although the Round 1 matchup did not go seven games, it was a best-of-five series. The No. 1 seeded Phoenix Suns were facing a 2-0 deficit to the No. 8 seed Lakers. No team had ever come back from a 2-0 series deficit and no No. 8 seed had ever beaten a one seed.

Head coach Paul Westphal gave an inspirational speech to reporters on how Phoenix was going to win the series, a speech known as “Westy’s Guarantee.”

“So, we’re down 0-2,” Westphal said. “I know the next question is, ‘Are you guys dead?’ No. We’re going to win the series. We’re going to win one Tuesday and the next game’s Thursday. We’re going to win there and then we’re going to come back and we will win the series on Sunday. And everybody will say what a great series it was.”

The Suns did exactly that after the injection of confidence from the head coach.

A Charles Barkley-led Suns team went on to win three straight games and won the Game 5 at home behind Barkley’s 31 points.

The Western Conference Finals matchup between Seattle and Phoenix did not disappoint. The Suns never trailed in the series and were 2-1 in games decided by 10 points or less.

Trading off wins throughout the first six games, the Suns found themselves back at home for Game 7. This time, the MVP of the league in Barkley did not let anything hold him back from a date with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan in the Finals.

Barkley scored 44 points and added 24 rebounds, his second 40+ point game in the series. The Suns won the game 123-110.

Phoenix went on to lose in the NBA Finals in six games to Chicago.

All other Game 7 elimination games in Suns history:

1969-70 3-4 vs. Lakers
1975-76 4-3 vs. Golden State Warriors
1978-79 3-4 vs. SuperSonics
1980-81 3-4 vs. Sacramento Kings
1993-94 3-4 vs. Houston Rockets
1994-95 3-4 vs. Rockets
2021-22 3-3 vs. Mavericks

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