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Suns fight for 3rd seed in West still has hope

The Suns will need a big finish of their own and a flat finish from the Kings, but it can happen

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns (34-29) are in Chicago to face the Bulls on Friday night, still on a quest to finish at season in at least 4th place if not 3rd. To keep or improve on their current position, which gives them home court advantage for at least one round, the Suns need to finish the season winning 14 of their last 19 games.

Why 14 of 19? First of all, because they can. Even with Kevin Durant only playing one game and Devin Booker only playing seven, the Suns have won 13 of their last 18. Now, just about everyone is healthy, including the two stars, so the Suns are primed for a big finish.

If the Suns can finish 48-34, they can at least keep their 4th seed and could possibly even climb to 3rd.

Let’s break it down.

1. Denver Nuggets 3-1 since the All-Star break (44-19)

2. Memphis Grizzlies 3-1 (38-23)

No one’s catching these guys. Their schedules are fairly easy the rest of the way and they’ve been blessed with good health. Just pencil these two in the top two seeds in the West.

3. Sacramento Kings 4-0 (36-25)

This is where the Suns want to be, but the Kings just keep on winning.

When I last wrote on how the Suns could grab the 3rd seed with a 16-6 finish after the All-Star break, I needed the Kings to finish no better than 15-10. Since then, the Kings have gone 4-0. Sigh. It helps that they’ve faced the Dame-less and Grant-less Blazers, the rudderless Clippers in the second-highest scoring game of all time, and the Shai-less Thunder (twice).

The Kings schedule continues to be tough, but now they only have to go 12-9 the rest of the way to beat out a Suns team that goes 14-5. They start a 4-game homestand against the reeling Clippers tonight (without Kawhi, on the second game of a back-to-back for them), the decidedly averaged Wolves, and the struggling Pelicans.

4. Phoenix Suns 2-1 (34-29)

The Suns have won 2 of 3 since the break, their loss coming to the Giannis-less Bucks in Milwaukee on Sunday where All-Star Jrue Holiday had his 6th 30-point game of the season. Their wins have come against the Shai-less Thunder and LaMelo-less Hornets.

Suns now face a healthy but struggling Bulls followed by a healthy but struggling Mavericks on the road and then back home against the Thunder again. Overall, they finish the regular season with 10 home games against 9 road games, including 6 of their last 8 at home.

I really think a 14-5 finish is entirely doable, considering (as mentioned already) they are 13-5 since late January largely without Booker and almost entirely without Durant. Can they do even better than 14-5? Of course. Let’s see how it unfolds.

When asked this week in the SBN Reacts Survey, Suns fans tend to agree. A full 88% of Suns fans who took the survey believe the team will win 14 or more of their last 20 games with Durant (currently 1-0).

Sign up here to join Reacts so you can participate in future votes.

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Key Seeding Matchups:

  • Suns have a 2-0 season series lead over the 3rd place Kings, with two to go. One more win gets the Suns the tiebreaker in case they finish the season with the same record.
  • They already own the tiebreaker over the 5th place Warriors (3-0 season series lead), with one to go.
  • If you’re worried about the 6th place Mavericks, the Suns are down 1-2 in the season series against the Mavericks, with Sunday’s matchup in Dallas the last of the season. Suns need that win just to make nullify this first tiebreaker, in case they finish with the same record.
  • Bottom line: If the Suns finish 14-5 with a win over the Kings, they’ve got the 4th seed in hand with a good chance at the 3rd seed.

5. Golden State Warriors 4-1 (33-30)

These Warriors are so weird. Nothing they’ve done this year tells you they will go on a run. Sure, Stephen Curry has been injured this year but he hasn’t made much difference on the bottom line this season. They are 13-12 without Steph and 20-18 with him. They win just about every home game (26-7) and lose just about every road game (7-23). And that hasn’t changed recently, losing 5 straight road games versus winning 5 straight home games. After playing the Pelicans on Friday at home, they’ve got 8 of the next 10 on the road. It’s now or never for the Warriors to solidify a playoff spot.

6. Dallas Mavericks 2-2 (33-31)

Life with Kyrie Irving sharing the ball with Luka Doncic has been rough so far. In games where they both play, the Mavericks are just 2-4 with five of those at home. One of those losses was a come-from-27-ahead loss to the Lakers on ABC last Sunday, followed by a another come-from-ahead loss to the Pacers. They finally broke through for a win on Thursday against the 76ers, who were on the second night of a back-to-back and looked completely washed in the second half.

Now they get two more home games (Suns, Jazz) before playing 10 of the next 13 on the road before closing out the season with a three-game home stand.

7. Los Angeles Clippers 0-4 (33-32)

8. Minnesota Timberwolves 1-2 (32-32)

9. Utah Jazz 1-2 (31-32)

10. New Orleans Pelicans 1-3 (31-32)

11. Los Angeles Lakers 3-1 (30-33)

The four teams in the play-in group are taking shape among these five, who are all either losing a lot recently, missing big-time players to injury, or both. And there’s no timeline to resolve any of their biggest issues. After trading some of their best players, the Jazz are positioned to keep dropping. The Lakers (LeBron James), Pelicans (Zion Williamson), Wolves (Karl-Anthony Towns) and Clippers (Russell Westbrook) are all facing big questions marks the rest of the way. I don’t see any of them beating out any of the top six.

There’s your update, Suns fans. Now vote.


What will be the Suns seed when playoff start?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    1st or 2nd seed
    (17 votes)
  • 43%
    3rd seed
    (208 votes)
  • 50%
    4th seed
    (242 votes)
  • 2%
    5th or lower
    (12 votes)
479 votes total Vote Now

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