PHOENIX — The first time it felt like the Suns could be in serious trouble was only a little over two minutes into the game. At that point, Dallas held what was an insignificant 5–3 lead when Luka Dončić dribbled the ball up the middle of the floor across halfcourt.

After calling Deandre Ayton into a screen at the top of the key and forcing Mikal Bridges to fight over it, Dončić did what he had done many times already during the series: He dribbled left and effortlessly stepped back into a three-pointer, giving him all eight of the Mavs’ points.

Almost immediately, you could sense a slight murmur in the crowd. In that moment the ball splashed through the net, Dončić went from 23-year-old wunderkind to horror-movie villain realizing the strength of his own powers. And he and his team never looked back.

Phoenix’s season—which before the playoffs had been the best in franchise history—ended in shocking, confusing, humiliating fashion on Sunday night. The Suns were pummeled in a 123–90 loss.

It still doesn’t feel completely real. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Didn’t Dončić still need more playoff seasoning before he could make the Finals? Wasn’t this supposed to be the storybook finish that had long eluded Chris Paul?

Weren’t the Suns far and away the best team in the NBA? Dallas put all those questions to bed mercilessly and with brutality in what was a landscape-changing win for the league.

You have to start with Dončić. Every time he dribbled the ball up the floor after that early stepback you could sense the nervous, uncomfortable energy in the arena.

How will he hurt us next? Luka toyed with DPOY-finalist Mikal Bridges. He posted up a center in Ayton and a point guard in Chris Paul and found success doing both.