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Getting closer: Suns’ Eastern Conference-heavy schedule is finalized

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The Phoenix Suns will play half their games against the East and zero against any other teams in the race for the West’s eighth seed.

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Suns’ schedule is out, and it’s far different from the slate of games they were scheduled to play before the NBA shutdown.

The Suns’ 2019-20 season will continue on July 31 against the Wizards. After that, they’ll have the Mavericks twice and a murderer’s row of Eastern Conference finals contenders as the Suns try to get within four games of the eighth seed out West and participate in the play-in for the playoffs.

The Clippers game will be on NBATV, but the rest will likely just be on Fox Sports Arizona.

As part of the NBA’s schedule announcement, the league said each team will play no more than one back-to-back, but the Suns have a tough one. Oklahoma City and Philadelphia is not a fun way to spend two days. Luckily, the Thunder game is the Suns’ earliest tip-off of the month, with a 2:30 p.m. game followed by 4:30 p.m. against the 76ers.

While the Suns avoid the Grizzlies, Pelicans, Trail Blazers and Spurs, meaning their fate is entirely in their own hands (for better or worse), these four are also among the worst teams in the bubble. The Suns won’t get to feast on sub-.500 teams. Their road to the playoffs was already going to take a near-perfect performance in Orlando, but now it’s clear they’ll have to beat some great teams to make it in.

As for the schedule itself, here is what the Suns’ slate looked like after the NBA initially announced teams would simply play the next eight games on their original 2019-20 calendar, skipping teams who weren’t in the bubble:

Dallas

Clippers

Dallas

Pacers

Wizards

76ers

Heat

Thunder

The opponents are the same, but the order is different. In one way, I don’t think the Suns will complain. The Wizards are going to be a heck of a warmup, especially with Davis Bertans officially out for the remainder of the season ahead of his impending free agency.

Plenty of time in the future to dissect all of this, but the highlight is this: We’re one step closer to Suns basketball.