The Suns are currently 17-10 and are sixth in the Western Conference playoff race, and hold the eight-best record in the league. This is so surprising, considering pretty much everyone (including experts) had Phoenix as one of the worst three teams in the NBA before the season started.
But how far could they go?
Hovering just around the Suns is the Houston Rockets. However with James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverley and Omer Asik intermittently injured and Dwight Howard a little up and down, the Suns should be able to surpass them.
The Los Angeles Clippers are the most important team Phoenix has to pass. Whoever can finish with the better record can claim the Pacific Division title and holds an automatic top-four seed for the West Postseason. The 20-11 Clips are inconsistent and only have a one game lead on the division, despite playing four more games than the Suns. Even with a good roster, the Clippers have lost two in a row and haven’t had a winning streak of more than five games thus far in the season.
Ahead of the Clippers are the San Antonio Spurs who hold a 23-7 record and probably aren’t going anywhere. Popovich always wants to be healthy for the postseason, so he sits some of his stars to give them rest. It is conceivable the Suns could pass them, if everything went right.
Next are the Oklahoma City Thunder who just lost Russell Westbrook for a while with another knee surgery. Without him their offense is less reliable and defenses can key in on Durant. The Suns could pass the Thunder.
Finally, there are the Portland Trailblazers. The 24-5 Blazers have really made a jump this season, but their lack of experience with being a frontrunner could cause them to falter.
The Suns can really make up ground against underperforming Golden State Warriors and the horrible Philadelphia 76ers, then a huge game against the Clippers. Additionally, to start out the New Year Phoenix plays eight straight games against teams under the .500 mark.
The worst-case scenario would be a pretty-low seed, maybe six, seven or eighth. Due to the Suns amazing ability to always hustle and be in every game until the end, their floor is higher than in previous seasons.
The best case scenario for the Suns is of course the number one seed in the Western Conference. However, a more reasonable landing spot will be a Pacific Division title and a top-four seed.
Who ever thought that possible at the beginning of this season?