After battling back into the thick of the playoff hunt, the Phoenix Suns have two more games before the All-Star break. Those are two must-win games for Phoenix, with the Kings and Clippers coming to town.
Phoenix went through six weeks of the abyss earlier this season as the team struggled through players’ injuries in December and January. However, As January has turned into February and players have returned, the Suns have gone from lottery pretender to playoff contender. With the addition of Kevin Durant and coming off the team’s most successful road trip of the season, which included a win over NBA-leading Boston, the Suns must not lose focus and drop the baton before this temporary finish line.
Phoenix has some momentum and needs to keep it
Phoenix has won 10 of its last 13 games, including four of the previous five from their recent road trip. That winning has gotten the Suns into the thick of the playoff conversation. A few weeks ago, Phoenix was on the outside, looking at battling to make the play-in tournament.
Today, the Suns are looking at homecourt advantage in the first round, and Durant has yet to take the floor. However, a couple of losses right now would seriously damage that work. The Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers – the two teams Phoenix plays before All-Star festivities – are the two teams on either side of the Suns in the standings.
The Kings and Clippers are neck and neck with the Suns in the standings
The Kings – like Memphis in front of them – have hit a bit of a wall, going five and five in their last ten games. Nevertheless, Sacramento still sits in third place, just in front of Phoenix, with a three-game lead in the loss column. If the Suns beat the Kings tonight, they will have the same number of victories but two more losses than the Kings.
Just behind Phoenix, the Clippers are tied with Dallas for fifth, with both teams having one more loss than the Suns. If Phoenix loses to Sacramento, they may even be behind LA with the Clippers playing Golden State tonight.
The point is, after a lot of losing, the Suns worked hard to get back into the playoff picture, and two wins can put them in contention for a top-three seed. Alternatively, two losses before the All-Star game, and Phoenix is back in the middle of the pack, trying to stay above the play-in tournament.
The Suns need two wins, two games to go before a break, and a twenty-game sprint to the finish. Let’s hope they get them, starting with the Kings tonight.