Phoenix Suns Playoff Chances? Very Strong

The Phoenix Suns have a lot more than 23 games left in them. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Many sites have playoff predictors on them, and not one of those sites currently picks the Phoenix Suns to make the playoffs this season. The Phoenix Suns currently sit in the 9th position in the West, only 2 games out of 6th place and 3.5 games out of 5th.

The problem, of course, is that there are 6 other teams besides the Suns with the same exact goal - to make the playoffs as a 5-8 seed - and all of them are within 5.5 games of each other with 1/4 of the 82-game season still to play.

Can Phoenix move up? Absolutely. Only 2 of their direct competitors have fewer games to play against +.500 competition (13). And no team has more remaining games against losing teams (10) - games that SHOULD be won by playoff-caliber teams at this stage of the season.

The Suns' destiny is in their hands. They just need to grab it.

Hit the jump for a breakdown of each team's remaining schedule, from seeds 5-10 of the current playoff standings.

First, here is the Suns' remaining schedule. Scroll down for bullet-point analysis.

March Opponent Current Record
 Fri 04  @ Milwaukee   23 36
 Sun 06  @ Oklahoma City   37 22
 Tue 08  vs Houston  31 32
 Thu 10  vs Denver  36 26
 Sun 13  vs Orlando  39 22
 Mon 14  @ Houston   31 32
 Wed 16  @ New Orleans   35 28
 Fri 18  vs Golden State  27 33
 Sun 20  @ LA Clippers   22 40
 Tue 22  @ LA Lakers   43 19
 Wed 23  vs Toronto  17 44
 Fri 25  vs New Orleans  35 28
 Sun 27  vs Dallas  44 16
 Tue 29  @ Sacramento   15 44
 Wed 30  vs Oklahoma City  37 22
April
 Fri 01  vs LA Clippers  22 40
 Sun 03  @ San Antonio   50 11
 Tue 05  @ Chicago   41 18
 Wed 06  @ Minnesota   15 47
 Fri 08  @ New Orleans   35 28
 Sun 10  @ Dallas   44 16
 Mon 11  vs Minnesota  15 47
 Wed 13  vs San Antonio  50 11

 

Phoenix Suns remaining schedule, by the bullets

 

  • 23 games remaining
  • 11 at home (6 against +.500 teams)
  • 12 on the road (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 19 games against Western Conference foes
  • 6 games against direct competitors for playoff seed 5-8 (New Orleans - 3, Houston - 2, Denver - 1; 3 at home, 3 on road)
Let's take a look at the direct competition now:

Denver (36-26, 5th place, 3.5 games ahead of Phoenix; lead season series 2-1)
  • 20 games remaining
  • 8 at home (2 against +.500 teams)
  • 12 on the road (10 against +.500 teams)
  • 4 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (New Orleans - 1, Phoenix - 1; all on road)
Portland (34-27, 6th place, 2 games ahead of Phoenix, won season series 3-1)
  • 21 games remaining
  • 11 at home (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 10 on the road (8 against +.500 teams)
  • 3 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (1 each against New Orleans, Memphis and Utah; 1 at home, 2 on road)
New Orleans (35-28, 7th place, 2 games ahead of Phoenix, trail season series 0-1)
  • 19 games remaining
  • 11 at home (8 against +.500 teams)
  • 8 on the road (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 11 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (Phoenix - 3, Memphis - 3, Utah - 2, Houston/Portland/Denver - 1 each; 7 at home, 4 on road)
Memphis (34-28, 8th place, 1.5 games ahead of Phoenix, lead season series 2-1)
  • 20 games remaining
  • 12 at home (6 against +.500 teams)
  • 8 on the road (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 5 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (New Orleans - 3, Portland/Utah - 1 each; 3 at home, 2 on road)
Utah (32-29, 10th place, even with Phoenix, lost season series 0-3)
  • 21 games remaining
  • 10 at home (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 11 on the road (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 7 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (Denver - 2, New Orleans - 2, Portland, Houston, Memphis; 4 at home, 3 on road)
Houston (31-32, 11th place, 2 games behind Phoenix, trail season series 0-1)
  • 19 games remaining
  • 12 at home (7 against +.500 teams)
  • 7 on the road (4 against +.500 teams)
  • 4 games against direct competitors for playoff seeds 5-8 (Phoenix - 2, New Orleans, Utah; 2 at home, 2 on road)
How do you interpret these numbers?

Simply that these remaining schedules are about as evenly matched as you can get.

Only Houston - in 10th place, 2 games behind the Suns - has fewer remaining ROAD games against +.500 competition (4 vs. 7), and only Denver (12) and Houston (11) have fewer remaining TOTAL games against +.500 competition than the Suns.

New Orleans has the largest control over their own playoff destiny (11 of 19 remaining games against their direct competition for seeds 5-8), yet they're playing their worst basketball of the season now. Chris Paul seems a shadow of himself, and the 11-1 start to their season is more a mirage than the mark of a very good team.

The Suns have the most remaining games overall (23), but nearly the fewest against winning teams (13). If the Suns can beat the losing teams like they SHOULD, and at least match their competition in wins against +.500 teams, then they will make the playoffs easily.

And with only 3.5 games separating the Suns from the 5th seed with 23 games to play, anything up to #5 is possible.
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