The NBA hasn’t officially released the schedule for the final eight games of the regular season, but what might it look like for the Phoenix Suns?
At this point, we know almost everything about the NBA’s return to play, but the one glaring shadow remains, and that is the schedule. Who will the Phoenix Suns have to mow through on their improbable run to a playoff berth?
If Yahoo! Sports’ Vincent Goodwill’s sources are to be believed, the NBA will pick back up where it left off and if a team was scheduled to play one of the eight teams not invited to the field of 22, they would simply skip that one and go to the next.
The problem is, following this to the letter simply doesn’t work. I started to work through every team to find a time where one team would skip more than the other and it took me exactly two teams.
The Milwaukee Bucks would play the Toronto Raptors in a back-to-back in games seven and eight of their schedule, but there is a slight problem with that because when the Bucks are playing the Raptors in their seventh game, it would be Toronto’s eighth.
So either some teams will need to play nine or 10 games to make this work, or the NBA is going to have to do some schedule tweaking.
What might the Phoenix Suns schedule look like when the NBA returns?
However, just because we don’t have much else to go on, if this were to hold exactly true, the Phoenix Suns’ eight-game schedule would look like this:
- Dallas Mavericks
- LA Clippers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Indiana Pacers
- Washington Wizards
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Miami Heat
- Oklahoma City Thunder
In this scenario, the Suns would skip over the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who didn’t make the field of 22.
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If this holds, that is a tough road to navigate, as seven of those eight teams have solid playoff spots locked in. Their opponents would have a combined 307 – 216 record (0.587 win percentage) and the Suns have a 3-7 combined record against the field.
What makes this an even tougher group for the Suns is that they don’t play any team with which they are in direct competition. The four other Western Conference Teams not currently in a playoff spot and 8th seed Memphis Grizzlies are nowhere to be seen. That means the Suns can’t really help themselves by beating their competition. They have to just hope they lose.
Again, though, I’m skeptical this schedule will remain exactly as stated above. There are too many variables. Having said that, it probably won’t be tweaked that much.
Maybe games seven and eight will change, but if the NBA tries to stay true to the original schedule, it is fairly safe to say the Phoenix Suns path to their first playoff berth in a decade will not be easy.