Before you even begin to read this, let me make this little disclaimer clear: I truly believe the Suns are done and I’m already looking forward to June 25, 2009, when hopefully Steve Kerr keeps the Suns’ picks and starts the rebuilding process.
However, given the schedule makeups of both Phoenix and Dallas, the Suns are far from eliminated just yet.
The Kings loss might end up being the final nail in the coffin, but the bottom line is that Dallas is just 5-5 in its last 10 games, and if the Mavs play at that clip from here on out, the Suns have a chance.
So, let’s look at the remaining schedules for each team and I’ll make my predictions, starting with the Suns losing Wednesday at home to the Rockets. Now, if they find a way to regroup and win this game, things get even a little more interesting. They do have two days off before the home game, which is to their benefit, but let’s just say for now they lose that game.
If this happens, they have to win out after that, no question. Of course the Dallas game is big, but beyond those two teams, they have a soft schedule, with the lone other plus-.500 opponent being a Hornets team that is also struggling its way into a poor seed.
We’re talking about winning games at home against Sacramento, Memphis, and Golden State, and on the road at Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis, and Minnesota. This is somewhat doable, or so says the optimist in me.
This alone is not crazy talk. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility, especially if Phoenix wins Wednesday, giving the team a tiny bit more breathing room.
But what may be crazy talk is the kind of losing Dallas will have to do.
The Mavericks do have a much tougher schedule. They go to Minnesota Tuesday for what may be a closer game than it should be. We’ll call that a win.
But after that, they face a back-to-back, heading home to Dallas to face a hungry Miami team trying not to fall to the dreaded No. 6 seed on Wednesday. They stand a pretty good chance of dropping that game, so let’s say they do.
Then two days later, they’ll play Memphis on the road in what should be a win.
Then comes the all-important April 5 matchup against the Suns in Big D. Of course, the only chance the Suns have is if they win this game, so in our hypothetical scenario, let’s say that happens.
After two days off, Dallas will host Utah on national television. We all know about Utah’s road struggles, but this game will come after two days’ rest and a short flight from New Orleans. We’ll say Dallas drops this one based on the fact that the Jazz are a better team, period.
That puts them at 2-3 thus far here. Dallas stays at home that following Friday to take on New Orleans, and even though it’s possible the Hornets hit their stride and come in playing well, we’ll say the Mavs beat them.
Two days later, it’s a rematch in New Orleans, in a game I’ll say Dallas drops. The very next night, they go back to Dallas to play Minnesota. Now, I’ll say they win this game, but don’t overlook this one because it’s Minnesota. It’s the second half of a back-to-back, and even though it’s a short flight, you never know. Suns fans know this well. (Sacramento, anyone?)
The last game of the year for the Mavericks is at home against Houston, a game they’ll likely lose. This puts them at 4-5 from here on out, and our beloved Suns at 7-1. This means the teams would be tied at 47-35 and the Suns would own the tiebreaker. Bring on the Lakers, baby!
Of course, I don’t see this happening. With the way the Suns are playing, it’s very likely they’ll have a letdown and lose to a bad team before all is said and done.
As I said before though, if they can find a way to use the two days off to regroup and beat Houston, I kind of, sort of, a little bit, like their chances given Dallas continues to play this mediocre. If the game at Dallas even matters by that point, it will mean the Suns have played very well and Dallas hasn’t.
It’s all a moot point if the Suns lose to the Mavericks, of course. And it may be one anyway after losing a game as crucial as Sunday’s was.