Phoenix Suns Front Office
Whether you're one of Chris Paul's eager critics, or someone with enough of a tolerance for sorrow to keep riding the roller coaster with him more hopefully, there's no questioning that, even if this sadly mythical loss isn't a proper send-off, it could act as a fitting, sourly poetic bookend to his career.
The No. 9 seed Pelicans, largely microwaved at the end of the season through trades and rapid youth project improvements, wouldn't be here without the new format, but now they look like a team that should've belonged in it all along.
The Suns jumped from 30th in the NBA in Net Rating in 17-18 to 29th to 18th in 19-20 to third last season and first in 21-22.