The season isn’t over, in fact it’s just the beginning of the end for the Phoenix Suns as they vie for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference with just 6 games remaining on their schedule.
If you’ve been following the Suns all season long then you don’t even need me to explain what is going on right now. Phoenix is fighting for their playoff lives night in, night out and it has been that way for over a month now. It’s been a very pleasant and surprising season, but it would feel incomplete without a playoff birth at this point.
The most frustrating thing as a fan (and yes, I feel like a broken record saying this) has to be that in the Eastern Conference there will be two very bad teams making it as the 7th and 8th seeds while three very, very good teams are battling it out in the West for the 7th and 8th spots. Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix all truly deserve a playoff birth, and I will have sympathy for the team that gets left out.
If the Suns want to make the playoffs, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
What needs to happen
- Must-win games must result in…. wins. The embarrassing loss to the depleted Lakers was an absolute killer for this team. That type of loss cannot happen again if they want to make the postseason. Upcoming road games against New Orleans and Sacramento come to mind. Phoenix absolutely cannot afford to lose either of those games.
- Slay the giants. The Suns just bounced back and beat the Blazers tonight in Rip City. Now, they will need to find a way to beat a very tough Oklahoma City squad on their home floor Sunday night. They also have a road game against the Spurs coming up shortly after the OKC game.
- Beat fellow playoff hopefuls. Make no mistake about it, the two biggest games of the season will come on April 12th and April 14th. Circle those dates on your calendar. The Suns will travel to Dallas on the 12th to take on the Dallas Mavericks in a pivotal contest. Just two days later they will be at home versus the Memphis Grizzlies (who have owned the Suns this year) for another huge game. If they manage to win both games, then I think they are in. If they go 1-1, then I give them about a 50/50 percent chance of making it. If they lose both then we can start talking about the draft lottery.
I would love to see them win all 6 games, but that’s not likely going to happen unfortunately. I think going 4-2 is attainable and could be good enough to sneak in the playoffs depending on who they beat and how the Grizzlies and Mavericks play to close out the year.
Going 5-1 would make the Suns almost certainly a lock to get a playoff spot, so I think that should be the goal. It will be extremely difficult, but if they can pull off an upset against Oklahoma City this Sunday then anything is possible.
Looking on the Bright Side
If the Suns do miss the playoffs, their draft pick will improve from 20th (if they get the 8th seed) to 14th barring a miracle in the lottery. So there is a consolation prize that comes with missing the playoffs, even though I’m sure there isn’t a single Suns fan that would trade up a trip to the playoffs for a pick upgrade after all we’ve been through this season.
12 days from now, we will know who is in and who is out of the final two playoff spots… and hopefully I can write up a playoff preview for this team as we celebrate a playoff birth. Either way, it’s been one heck of a season and a fun ride. We’ve gotta believe, Suns nation. Get behind the Suns and help give them that last push into the playoffs.