Denver Nuggets become first team to reach the NBA Conference Finals

Denver Nuggets become the first team to reach the NBA Conference Finals with blowout 25-POINT win over Phoenix Suns… as Kevin Durant comes up short and Nikola Jokic shines

  • Nikola Jokic scored 32 points in another triple-double for impressive Nuggets
  • Kevin Durant was traded to Phoenix in the hope he could win them a title 
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Nikola Jokic scored 32 points in another triple-double to help the Denver Nuggets advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2020 by beating the short-handed Phoenix Suns 125-100 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

Denver’s series victory comes two seasons after the Nuggets were embarrassed in a second-round postseason sweep by the Suns. This time, it was the Suns getting blown out on their home floor to end the season for the second straight year.

Kevin Durant was traded to Phoenix in February with the team hoping he could take them all the way to an NBA title, but they have now fallen short and their season is over. 

The Nuggets will play in the conference finals for the first time since they lost to the eventual champion Lakers in five games in the Florida bubble during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have never reached the NBA Finals.

The top-seeded Nuggets used a 23-2 run during the latter part of the first quarter to take a 44-26 lead and never looked back. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – averaging 9.5 points in the playoffs – scored 17 in the first quarter while Jokic added 14.

Nikola Jokic showed off his MVP credentials once again to help the Nuggets to a 25-point win

Jamal Murray also shone for Denver, putting up 26 points as his side won with relative ease

Kevin Durant had 23 points but couldn’t do enough to take his side to a Game 7 decider

Caldwell-Pope finished with 21 points. Jokic shot 13 of 18 from the field and added 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Denver’s offensive onslaught continued in the second as the lead grew to 81-51 by halftime, leading to boos from Suns fans as players made their way to the locker room. The second half was essentially an afterthought.

Cameron Payne scored 31 points for Phoenix, hitting 7 of 9 3-pointers. Durant added 23.

The Suns were playing without injured starters Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. Ayton sustained a rib contusion in Tuesday’s Game 5 while Paul has been out the past four games with a strained left groin.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (center, in black) was courtside for the game

Devin Booker (center) tries to get through the defense of the Nuggets during Game 6

Phoenix was eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals at home for a second straight season despite a blockbuster trade deadline deal for Durant, a 13-time All-Star and one of the game’s most prolific scorers. The 34-year-old had some good moments in the playoffs, but made just 1 of his first 10 shots on Thursday as the Suns fell into a huge hole.

Suns guard Devin Booker was brilliant in most of the postseason, averaging 36 points per game on 60% before Game 6. But the three-time All-Star finished with just 12 points on Thursday.

The home team won the first five games of the series until the Nuggets broke through in Game 6.

Aaron Gordon (right) drives past Suns guard Landry Shamet during the second half in Phoenix

Cameron Payne reacts during the fourth quarter as the Suns bombed out of the NBA playoffs

For the Suns, the loss was eerily similar to Game 7 of last year’s Western Conference semifinals.

Phoenix, with the NBA’s best record, fell behind Dallas by 30 points by halftime and ended up losing 123-90 to end its season.

In the shot clock era, the home team has trailed by 30-plus points in a potential playoff elimination game just three times. Phoenix is now responsible for two of them. The other was the Bucks in 2015.

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