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5 reasons why the Phoenix Suns won't make the Playoffs and 5 reasons why they just might

Oh, our darling Suns. Just when we start thinking we're completely out of the Playoff picture you regroup and somehow make a push that makes us want to believe again.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After last night's win the Phoenix Suns (38-33) are yet again in 9th place and just 2.5 games out of the playoffs. Due to the competition for 8th spot in the West that might not sound all too encouraging except they've won 4 straight games this past week, three of those wins coming against  teams that are over .500 and all of which are from the tough Western Conference.

Lets take a minute to marvel at that. I know Houston is missing Dwight and Dallas hasn't gelled as well since acquiring Rondo, but the Suns have also had their share of misfortunes, the biggest of which is probably the sidelining of Brandon Knight (tempted to say Alex Len ankle injury because he's so tall, anyway). And yet the Suns have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games with those three losses coming against the East leading Atlanta Hawks, the West leading Golden State Warriors and LeBron James' Cavaliers. So despite all the turmoil of the season there is still hope we get into the playoffs, small as it might be.

With 11 games left Jim (won't) and I (will) took it upon ourselves to give you 5 reasons why the Suns won't make the Playoffs and 5 reasons why they will.

Why they won't

Reason #1: Russell Westbrook

Dude has been playing like his ass is on fire. Westbrook has now recorded 8 triple doubles in his last 13 games. If the team bus broke down on the way to the arena Westbrook would probably hitch a rope to the bumper, tie the other end around his waist, and pull it the rest of the way to the game. After carrying the Thunder through injuries to Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka, while playing with a broken face, it's just hard to imagine he will let his team slide enough in the final weeks to let the Suns slip past them. If there's a player in the league more determined than Westbrook right now, I'm not sure who it is.

Why they will

Reason #1: Eric Bledsoe

His ass might not be on fire but in his last six games EB has averaged 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game on 46.1% shooting while making 75.7 % of his 6.2 attempted free throws. The numbers are quite impressive and if he could only keep his turnovers down and his attack mode ON the whole time he is on the floor this could be the driving force of the Suns playoff hopes. (I believe it will be the deciding factor in the end.)

Why they won't

Reason #2: The Schedule

The Suns close out the season with six of their last eight on the road against Portland, Golden St., Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans and San Antonio. The Suns have a losing record on the road this season, 17-18, and are 4-13 on the road against teams with winning records. After playing the Kings in their next game, the Suns only other "easy" contest will be at home against the Utah Jazz... who are 14-5 in their last 19 games.

Why they will

Reason #2: Beating the odds

The remaining schedule might look like complete torture, but the Suns seem to play much better when they compete with a team that is supposed to be better than them. Had anyone asked me how the Suns would do in their next 10 games 10 games ago, my answer would be much different than it turned out. I was not expecting a win over Dallas or Houston. Their win over OKC from just a few weeks ago was very impressive as well. The Suns have proven they CAN beat those teams and except for the Clippers (0-3) which have just been a thorn in our heal and the Hawks (0-1) who we've played only once; the Suns have beaten every other remaining team on the schedule at least once in the 2014-15 season.

Why they won't

Reason #3: Math

Oklahoma City is 17-6 since the beginning of February and has won five of their last six. If they go 6-6 the rest of the way the Suns would need to go 8-3, and beat the Thunder in their final match-up, to make the playoffs.

After a home game against Houston the next four for the Pelicans are the Kings, Timberwolves, Lakers and Kings. That means despite their current three game losing streak the Pelicans likely aren't going anywhere and will still be very engaged in their home game against the Suns on April 10th.

The Suns have season series deciding games against both the Thunder and Pelicans remaining. The Thunder game is at home, but the Pelicans game is on the road and Anthony Davis has returned to play after a brief absence. If the three end up tied, Phoenix will have to win both of their remaining games against the Thunder and Pelicans or New Orleans will win the tiebreaker.

Why they will

Reason #3: Competition for the 8th leans on Russ and Brow

OKC's MVP Kevin Durant is sidelined for the foreseeable future meaning the reinforcements Russell Westbrook might have been hoping for (though probably not) won't be coming anytime soon. He's averaging 38.8 minutes per game over the last 10 and given the energy he expends when he's on the floor I'm assuming he'll slow down at some point. Hopefully he is tired for the last Thunder vs Suns match-up of the season on March 29, which seems like a legit possibility since OKC play the Spurs the night before.

Anthony Davis just came back from an ankle injury that kept him out the last two games - one of which was against the Suns, helping tilt the scale in our favor. Before that he was also averaging big (huge) minutes - 40 over the last 14 days and I don't see that changing going forward since the Pelicans will be fighting for the 8th spot as hard as the Suns and OKC. He'll have almost eight full games to tire out before playing the Suns on April 10th.

For comparison, our minute leader over the last 14 days has been EB at a much more reasonable 36 minutes per game.

Why they won't

Reason #4: The Bench

The Suns bench has now been outscored by the opposing team's reserves in six consecutive games. After struggling through a roster imbalance created by a glut of point guards earlier this season, the Suns just signed A.J. Price to play backup point in the midst of a stretch run. Of course, Price has proved to be up to the task, shooting 2-8 with one assist in his first two outings. If I'd told you before the season the Suns would be playing Price, Seth Curry and Earl Barron meaningful minutes in games late in the season you would have probably deduced that something had gone horribly wrong... instead of Phoenix still being in the playoff picture.

The return of Brandon Knight may help assuage these problems, but it might also cause another adjustment period that the team can't withstand right now. The complete disappearance of Gerald Green has left the bench bereft of a real difference maker that can help swing a game. Interestingly enough, T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin are finally getting the minutes many were clamoring for Hornacek to give them, and have had at least some success, but now they are being thrust into a pressure situation that makes the transition even more difficult.

Why they will

Reason #4: Team effort and defence

The Suns have been leaning on team play and as the playoff race gets even more heated I can see them banding together even more. Six players have been averaging double digits in the last two weeks, all of which have been part of the starting lineup at some point. Also their defence has been great - 6th best defence since the All-Star Break.

The offence hasn't been that shiny - 24th since the break, but as soon as Wednesday our Knight in shining armour as I like to call him will be returning from his two week absence due to his ankle injury. Brandon averaged 15.2 points for the Suns in his five March games before he got injured. His return will provide additional resources on offence and hopefully take some of the pressure off of EB's back.

Why they won't

Reason #5: Fate

The Suns have picked either 13th or 14th in four of the last six drafts. The late lottery is like a warm, fuzzy blanket. Missing the playoffs is a gentle ocean breeze. After a season filled with so much tumult it seems like this would be the fitting ending... not good enough to make the playoffs and not bad enough to draft a potential franchise player. Phoenix is the ultimate bubble team. Hopefully my reverse jinx will work here. Every time I've believed in this team they've let me down and every time I've been ready to write them off they've shown new life. It's been that kind of season.

Why they will

Reason #5: Karma

Come on now universe! We've been through enough. We were suppose to be in the playoffs last year based on our marvelous record and considering the current Eastern standings we deserve to be there this year. Between all the bouncing buzzer beaters, the no-calls, the wrong calls, the un/justified techs, the dissatisfaction and the devastating player trades.. If not the team, we the fans deserve a break.

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