With a win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday evening, the Phoenix Suns are the first team in the NBA to crack the 50-win mark on the season. It is the first time the Suns have won 50+ games in consecutive seasons since 2006-07 and 2007-08.
The win came despite the team being without their All-Star backcourt as news came down earlier in the day that Devin Booker would miss time due to health and safety protocols. He was clearly under the weather…
Chris Paul was already out for an extended period of time, injuring his right thumb on February 16. The injury to the MVP candidate potentially changed the course of the season for the Phoenix, although the team with – at the time – a 48-10 record would be hard to catch in the Western Conference standings. When Paul’s injury occurred, they carried a 6.5 game lead into the All-Star break.
Being without Chris Paul is most certainly a challenge for Phoenix, but with 24 games left in the season at the time of his injury, the question was posed and still remains: Will Phoenix maintain their standing as the best team in the Western Conference in the NBA?
It is as if every victory for the Phoenix Suns for the remainder of the season would carry more weight to it. The Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies are peeking up in the standings at Phoenix and hoping that they falter. Knowing a loss provides the Warriors and the Grizzlies hope that they can catch Phoenix is something the team would most certainly like to avoid.
Holding the number one seed is important. Sure, it’d be nice to enter the playoffs with a number one seed. The last time Phoenix did that? 2005-05. But having that seed avoids potential turmoil in the second round as well.
If my math serves me well, having seed numero uno means that the team would face the number eight seed in the first round. That team will be coming off of a play-in game matchup. If the Suns could win that series, the second round matchup would pit them against the number four seed. Breaking news, right?
Whoever finishes number two or number three, however, will have to face each other in the second round if both teams both survive their first round matchups. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have to play the Warriors or the Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals versus having to play them in the second round.
That is what Phoenix is attempting to avoid by navigating the remaining games in their schedule without Chris Paul. And for a time, without Devin Booker.
So how confident are we as a fan base that the Phoenix Suns can win at least 13 more games? Why 13? Because in doing so even if the opposition wins out, the Suns will still have the number one seed in the Western Conference. And we know that’s not gonna happen.
60% of SB Nation readers believe that the Suns can win at least 13 more games this season. 60%?! That’s it?!
The Phoenix Suns, although it was against the lowly Portland Trail Blazers, displayed their effectiveness as a basketball team on Wednesday night and that might change the opinions of some of the talking heads out there. The team performed as a team in every sense of the word, having no scorer exceed 20 points, but everyone being involved. Of the 40 made shots by the Phoenix Suns, 32 of those came via the assist. It is that team basketball first attitude of the Phoenix Suns that is hard to replicate, hard to understand, and hard to beat.
Team basketball trumps superstardom and with their superstars out, the Phoenix Suns rolled. Again, this was against the Trail Blazers.
Will there be greater tests ahead? Absolutely. But knowing that this team can currently develop their depth and fortify their rotations behind their all-star duo does nothing but benefit this team in the long term.
The Suns have 20 games to go. They currently have a seven game lead over the Golden State Warriors. If the Warriors win out, and the Phoenix Suns win 13 of their games, then the Suns are still the number one seed. Period.
Note that if the Suns only win 13 more of their 20 games, that still puts them over the franchise record of 62 wins, accomplished twice in franchise history. Don't think that this team isn't aware of this.