They did their part Thursday, blowing out the Dallas Mavericks 128-102 to complete a perfect 8-0 record during the NBA restart in the Florida bubble. But Phoenix came into the day needing either the Memphis Grizzlies or Portland Trail Blazers to lose in order to earn a shot at the play-in series between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in the Western Conference.
The Memphis Grizzlies didn't cooperate, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 119-106 in another Thursday afternoon game. That means Phoenix will need the Brooklyn Nets to beat the Blazers on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Regardless, the future appears bright for the young Suns, who meshed and played excellent basketball near Orlando. If their season is over, they can build on the fact that they did everything possible to claw their way back into postseason contention.
Devin Booker, PHX: 27 points, seven rebounds, five assists
Luka Doncic, DAL: 18 points, five rebounds
Dario Saric, PHX: 16 points, six rebounds
Boban Marjanovic, DAL: 18 points, 20 rebounds
Ricky Rubio, PHX: Seven points, 12 assists
Justin Jackson: 13 points
Booker Has Made a Strong Case to be Bubble MVP
With 27 more points on Thursday, Booker has averaged a cool 30.5 points per game during the NBA restart. And lest you accuse him of being just a scorer, he's also averaged six assists per contest.
Booker is the face of the Suns, but there have long been questions about whether he was a complete enough player to lead a team. He answered them both this season and in Florida, leading the team to wins over the Mavs (twice), Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Philadelphia 76ers.
Seven of the team's eight wins in the bubble have come against teams that qualified for this year's playoffs. That's an impressive run, all spearheaded by Booker.
The Suns are going to be trouble for the rest of the NBA next season.
Mavs Need the Defense to Improve
There's little doubt Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks can score at a high level. But they have gone just 3-5 in the bubble, and a large part has been the team's porous defense.
That was on display again Thursday, even if the game was meaningless for the Mavs since their playoff seeding was locked in. But with the Los Angeles Clippers forthcoming, the Mavericks have to sturdy up on the defensive end. You need to get stops against well-rounded, deep teams like the Clippers.
Doncic is a spectacular offensive player, but he'll have some tough opponents covering him in the postseason. If Dallas wants to shock the Clippers, it'll actually need to play defense.
Dallas will begin preparing for a first-round series against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers. The Suns will gather around their televisions tonight, hoping the Blazers stumble.