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Phoenix Suns could ride early winnable schedule back to respectability

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After October, the Suns schedule loosens up and could allow them to build foundational momentum.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns’ schedule is out, and we’re right back where we started a year ago, aren’t we? A winnable opening game, followed by a murderer’s row of Western Conference elite that could shake the Suns new foundation to its core.

But lemme grab those rose-colored glasses — err, purple-colored, that is — and look past October to what could be the best two months of basketball we’ve seen in Phoenix since Jeff Hornacek roamed the sideline and Goran Dragic ran point.

I’m not saying the schedule is easy. Since the Suns still play in the West, and since the Suns were almost twice as bad as any of the other West team yet have to play those squads most of the season, you should not be surprised that the Suns’ schedule is rated as the toughest in the NBA.

That’s right.

Guess who had the toughest schedule a year ago at this time, based on these same metrics? The Kings. So, it can be done. A good team wins games. A bad team loses games.

Let’s break it down.

October

A year ago, the Suns had a winnable opening game but then a tough-sledding schedule that made it impossible for the Suns to trade water, let alone swim. In August a year ago, I predicted the doom.

The Suns DID win their opener, but then lost the next six straight games by an average of 21 points per game. Ugh. In retrospect, I was being too kind in thinking they’d steal one of those after opening night.

How does this year’s October schedule look? Not a lot different. After a winnable opening night — I mean, Sacramento is still better than the Suns but not a playoff team — then they’ve got to face four straight playoff teams: the Nuggets, Clippers, Jazz and Warriors to close out October.

Do we just punt and hope for 1-4? Probably.

November

Last year at this time, I then predicted a 5-10 November because the schedule just didn’t lighten up much at all. In real life, they went 3-12, though one of the losses was that nutso Celtics loss where they had a late lead before coughing it up in a way that’s even difficult to explain. Oh, and f-u, Marcus Morris.

This year, I see November going a lot differently.

The Suns opponents in November are much more balanced. No murderers row of confidence-killing stretches against world beaters. The Suns have a lot of games against the East and a few against the West’s second tier.

I think the Suns go 6-7 or 7-6 in November this year, which will be right about the time the media start saying things like, “Wow did Devin Booker suddenly get good?” and, “In a total surprise, Ricky Rubio looks rejuvenated” and “Who’da thunk it?” takes.

December

Even December has a lot of winnable games this year. Enough to keep up the good momentum.

A year ago, I was relieved that December appeared to loosen up a bit, and I predicted a 6-9 month. Heady stuff for a really bad basketball team. In real life, the Suns went 5-10 but buried in there was that triple-overtime Wizards loss that could so easily have been a win. So I wasn’t that far off.

This year, I can actually see the Suns winning half their games or better. Which, after a wobbly start, could put the Suns in contention for a .500 record by Christm—

Dave. Stop it. Come back to the real world—

No! You’ve been been in the real world for too damn long. Take another pill, lay down, and dream of a what could be a fun few months to finish off 2019.

My prediction?

Suns record at Christmas is 15-18.

Not great, but good enough to bring hope back to the Valley and purple and orange-colored Christmas presents.