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With playoff schedule announced, Phoenix Suns fans begin pursuit of tickets

Basketball excitement is expected to hit a crescendo in Arizona Sunday night when the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns begin their pursuit of the franchise’s first NBA title.

The opponent isn’t yet know, but their first round schedule is. The Suns open the best-of-seven series at 6 p.m. Sunday at Footprint Center. They also play at home Tuesday before hitting the road with games Friday and Sunday, April 24, if necessary. Games 5, 6 and 7 would be played April 26, 28 and 30 with only Game 6 on the road.

“It took us a whole year to get back to this point,” guard Chris Paul said. “The question is what we are going to do with this type of opportunity.”

Tickets went on sale for the general public Tuesday with prices ranging from $152 to $8,364 on the team’s official ticket site, Ticketmaster, as of Wednesday afternoon. Fans who signed onto the site were greeted with a queue of nearly 700 people and a brief wait. Game 1 playoff tickets on StubHub, a popular resale ticket broker, ranged from $800 to $10,000.

The Suns await news of their first round playoff opponent, which won’t be known until Friday night’s play-in game. The NBA play-in tournament, which was introduced in 2021, features Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 10 seeds competing. The No. 7 seeds host No. 8 seeds and No. 9 seeds hosts the 10 seeds. The loser of the 7/8 game and the winner of the 9/10 game will then face off, and the winner will officially be named the No. 8 seed for the NBA playoffs. As of Wednesday, the Suns can take on one of three teams in the first round: the Los Angeles Clippers, the New Orleans Pelicans and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night and will play the winner of the 9-10 seed matchup between the Pelicans and Spurs to sort out the Suns’ first round opponent.

The Suns have bounced back after falling short in six games in the NBA Finals last season to the Milwaukee Bucks and extending their title drought to 53 seasons. This year, they have had to mitigate Paul’s thumb injury, which saw him miss 15 games. In that stretch, the Suns kept rolling, going 11-4 in his absence and finishing 64-18, the best record in NBA, while also setting a franchise record for wins in a single season. The victory came with an added bonus: It eliminated their long time rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, from playoffs.

Devin Booker turned heads throughout the season with MVP-type numbers along the way. Mikal Bridges established himself as the Suns’ “Iron Man,” playing in all 82 games this season while also being a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year.

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Suns Coach Monty Williams credits the players for buying into the program yet maintaining their passion for the game. It is reflected in the energy they display on the court and the dancing and singing that is often part of pregame warmups.

“You have to have players that commit to it,” Williams said. “Our group has committed to this program and committed to our coaches. I think it’s helped us a ton. We don’t take it for granted.”

Cam Payne believes depth and experience has been among the team’s strong points and believes in the possibility of a deep playoff run that will result in a championship.

“I feel like last year the only thing we didn’t have was experience,” Payne said. “Now we do, one through 15. Just ready to get started.”

Suns fans unable to get tickets have the opportunity to watch playoff games at the newly unveiled 12,000 square-foot Rally Beach Fan Zone outside Footprint Center that debuted in the regular-season finale.

It features a 20-foot LED screen, food and beverage trucks, rotating deejays and the Suns’ entertainment team. Tickets cost $10, and fans are encouraged to buy in advance. Admission does not allow fans access inside the Footprint Center however. Rally Beach tickets may be available for purchase onsite only if capacity is not reached or fluctuates throughout the game.

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Dominic Rivera/Cronkite News

The Suns’ outdoor beach party, Rally Beach, will return for Game 1 Sunday at Footprint Center and will feature sand, deejays, a giant screen and beverage trucks.