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Sigh of relief: Suns schedule will be balanced, not Pacific Division-heavy

Things could have been ugly if the Suns had to face the Lakers, Warriors and Clippers a bunch.

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Now that free agency is over and training camp is about to start for your playoff-contending Phoenix Suns, let’s take a quick look at how the season is expected to play out.

Four preseason games

The Suns are scheduled to play four preseason games — two on the road in Utah against the Jazz on 12/12 and 12/14, and then a pair at home against the Lakers on 12/16 and 12/18 before the season starts.

72-game schedule

Starting as early as December 22, NBA teams will play 72 games, with 42 of those against teams from the same conference and 30 non-conference matchups.

The Suns will play each team only two or three times, criss-crossing the country like a regular-regular season with tons of travel. To fit all these games in a tighter calendar window, each team will get more back-to-backs than usual. Sounds ripe for failure, in my opinion, considering the positive COVID-19 tests in other traveling sports and the shorter NBA roster that only allows you to carry 15 players plus a pair of two-way contracts at a time and yet requires you to suit up no fewer that 8 players for each game or forfeit. I’m looking forward to new rules around this for the coming season.

Only half the schedule released initially

The league will reportedly release the full schedule details in two installments, with the NBA hoping to make the first portion public around the beginning of training camp. The second portion will come out towards the end of the first half of games just in case the league has to reschedule games because of COVID-19 protocols.

Play-in tourney for 7-10 seeds

The NBA will partially continue its format from the bubble and hold a play-in tournament to determine the bottom two playoff seeds in each conference. Similar to the format for the 2020 season, teams will be ranked on winning percentage. The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentage will have to win one game to get into the postseason, while the teams with the ninth-highest and 10th-highest winning percentage will have to win twice to get in.

The two victorious teams will then play one another to determine who gets the seventh and eighth seeds.


Dec. 11-19 (Pre-season games)

Dec. 22 - March 4 (first half of regular season)

March 5-10 (All-Star break, but no All-Star game itself)

March 11 - May 16 (second half of the regular season)

March 18-21 (play-in tournament)

March 22 - July 22 (NBA Playoffs)

Dan Woike of the L.A. Times tweeted out the opponent matrix for each team, breaking down the home/away matchups for every franchise.

The Suns are lucky to avoid playing the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors too much, but this version of the schedule seems a bit more risky.

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