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Suns Reacts Survey: In-Season Tournament matchups


Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in Phoenix Suns fans and fans across the country.
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Like breadcrumbs en route to Hansel and Gretel’s house, the NBA is leading us to their NBA schedule release on Thursday. Or maybe it’s Pac Man-esque, as we gobble up everything we can while we wait for the highly anticipated 2023-24 NBA season to begin.

First, there was the release of the Opening Night and Christmas Day schedule, both which include the purple and orange of the Phoenix Suns on national television.

Then it was the announcement that the Suns’ second game would also occur on the road, this time pitting Lebron James versus Kevin Durant for the first time since 2018 as Phoenix would visit Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on October 26th on TNT.

At this rate, if they reveal a game a day, we’ll know the entire schedule right about the time the season begins.

On Tuesday, the In-Season Tournament schedule was released, and with the Suns slotted to play in the Western Conference’s Group A, it was revealed when Phoenix would play the Lakers, Jazz, Blazers, and Grizzlies. The In-Season Tournament, which makes its debut in 2023, works like this:

  • 6 groups of five teams, 3 groups in each conference
  • You play each team once as a part of group play in November, which will be games on Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Group winners plus the top record not to win a group advance to the 8 team knockout tournament (can’t wait for all of the 2-2 record tiebreaker rules)
  • Tournament style from there until a champion is crowned on December 9

Los Angeles is the most viable opponent for Phoenix in the tournament. They are coming off of a surprising Western Conference Finals appearance, they roster LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and they are a longtime rival of the Suns. My initial assumption is that the majority of you will vote their favor.

But let me make cases for the other three teams that the Suns will face.

The Jazz are in an intriguing matchup, especially early on in the season, as they have turned the Rudy Golbert and Donovan Mitchell assets into a competitive team that will surprise you. John Collins is now on the team, and with Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Lauri Markkanen, they possess grit and toughness and will be a quality opponent for the Phoenix Suns in this tournament. Keyonte George is an explosive rookie that they added via the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Jazz can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.

Then you have the Blazers, who are intriguing due to the simple fact that we don’t know what’s going on with Damian Lillard. Asking to be traded to such a specific team apparently only works if you’re trying to get to Phoenix. It worked for KD. It works for Bradley Beal. It isn’t working for Lillard as he tries to get to the Miami Heat. He could be back, and he could be playing with a vengeance, playing mad, and could sway the tournament away from Phoenix if they’re not ready for him.

The Grizzlies will be without Ja Morant, who will be amidst serving his suspension for the first 25 games of the season following brandishing a firearm. But we know how the grizzlies play without Ja. They’re good! Last season they were 20-5 without Morant. There’s a subtle rivalry that occurs with the Grizzlies, probably more between fans than between actual franchises.

The Suns are favored to come out of group play on top, and with the teams involved, you can see a path as to why. Which brings us to this week’s Suns Reacts Survey. Which one of these matchups gets your mid-August blood a-pumpin’?

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