The Phoenix Suns were the best team in the 2021-22 regular season finishing with a franchise-record 64 wins. However, their playoff presence was a different story as the Dallas Mavericks ousted them in the Conference semifinal series.
On Wednesday, The Athletic reported (h/t RealGm) a new twist on the Suns’ postseason meltdown. The team was seemingly dealing with an outbreak of COVID-19. More specifically, at least one player tested positive ahead of Gm 7 of the series vs Dallas.
A total of six individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to Phoenix’s Game 7 defeat or in the day after. The Suns and the NBA have both said that the team did not violate any of the league’s health and safety protocols.
The only named individual among them was assistant coach Bryan Gates, who missed Game 7. Teams are expected to test individuals now only if they are symptomatic. As a result, only three players missed games due to COVID protocols this postseason.
The Suns lost the last two games of the semifinal series and were eliminated despite being among the favorites to win the title entering the playoffs. It’s unclear if the situation impacted the players and the coaching staff.
Ultimately, it is likely just one of many factors that led to Phoenix’s defeat, but at the very least, it offers some insight in one of the most unexpected blowout defeats in a “do or die” Game 7.