The Phoenix Suns’ next five games are all against the NBA’s top teams. It will be their biggest challenge, and chance to prove themselves, of the year.
The Phoenix Suns are in the midst of their best stretch of games all season. After a 4-24 start, they’re 5-2 in their last seven, but those wins haven’t exactly been over the NBA’s elite teams. They’ve beaten the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic. Other than the Celtics, all of those teams have losing records, and the five teams are an average of 3.6 games under .500 (as of Thursday afternoon).
The next five games will be nothing like that. They’ll be taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Clippers. All of those teams are at least six games over .500. Their opponents rank one, two, three, and five in the West, and four in the East. Their average record is nine games over .500. It really is a brutal stretch.
So what can we learn about the Suns during this stretch? No one expects them to win all five games. No one expects them to even win three of them. In all likelihood, the Suns will maybe win one of those games, and two games would be considered a massive success. But more than wins and losses, the Suns can prove a lot just by how they play during this portion of their schedule.
The Suns obviously aren’t going to keep up the pace they’re on these past seven games, and no one is mistaking them for a 59 win team. But they can still prove that they’re not the team that started 4-24. They can prove that they’re a team that every team has to take seriously every night. Keeping four of these five games close into the fourth quarter would go a long way.
The one positive about this five game stretch is that all of the games are at home. Hopefully they can draw some energy from the home crowd. Things will get really tough at times. They might give up giant runs at some points. But it’s important that the Phoenix Suns keep playing hard and prove they can compete with the best teams in the NBA, regardless of whether they win.