The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of an eight-game win streak. This is their fifth streak of five or more wins this season and their fourth such streak of at least eight games.
With the Suns being red hot and having clinched the number one overall playoff seed, it is fair to question whether or not any team in the NBA can stop them this season.
In the Western Conference, there are only two potential challengers. First is the up-and-coming Memphis Grizzlies, who just pounded Milwaukee despite not having Ja Morant at their disposal.
Morant is supposed to be out for at least another week but could stay on the injury report for longer. Assuming he returns before the postseason and plays at the level we are accustomed to, Memphis will be extremely dangerous.
The Grizzlies have a budding superstar in Morant as well as many high-quality role players such as Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Steven Adams. Memphis is also the only other team besides Phoenix to be top six in both offensive and defensive rating.
The Grizzlies will not be a real threat in the playoffs without Morant but they are still very good. Memphis is an astounding 17-2 in the 19 games their star guard has missed this year.
The other team to fear out west lies in California. Don’t overlook the slumping Golden State Warriors quite so quickly. Yes, they have been mediocre at best over the past two months but that doesn’t eliminate their threat status. The Warriors started 41-14 for a reason.
Their lack of success lately comes down to their health. Klay Thompson did not suit up until Draymond Green sustained his back injury in early January. Then when Green finally came back, Curry hurt his ankle.
When the time comes, the Warriors should have Curry and Draymond in the lineup for more than one game and the Golden State will not be an easy out for any opponent. They have the league’s second-best defense despite the extended absence from their best defensive player and still have a few good secondary shot creators/shot makers in Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson.
Don’t be surprised if this ends up as a seven-game conference finals series.
The competition out East is a lot more fierce. Mostly because every potential contender in the east has been extremely up and down all season. Just when you think one of the east teams will separate themselves from the pack, they go on a losing streak.
Between the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics and maybe even the eighth-seeded Brooklyn Nets, one of these teams should be in the NBA finals.
Based solely on recent play, the Celtics would appear to be the biggest threat of the bunch but they don’t quite have the star power of some of these other teams despite Tatum obviously being one of the elites. He’s not quite a Giannis, Durant or Embiid.
No matter which one of these teams the Suns have to go through for their first NBA title, they should make sure to take their opponent seriously because these teams are no joke. Even if the Suns are still the center of the universe.