Phoenix Suns: 5 Playoff Matchups We Would Like to See

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Heading into the NBA regular season’s final weekend, the playoff picture has yet to take full form, leaving the Phoenix Suns unaware of what foes they might encounter. With the league implementing a play-in tournament this year as well, the Suns might even need to wait an additional four days before knowing who to game plan against if they hold onto at least the Western Conference’s second seed.

Amidst all this uncertainty, all fans can do at this point is speculate. Certainly some more beneficial potential playoff opponents exist for the Suns, pushing one to root for or against other teams looking to shake up the standings down the stretch. But as enticing as an easier path to the NBA Finals might seem, another route filled with reigning champions, hungry contenders, and MVP frontrunners might give way to more excitement and fun for the city.

They say “it’s about the journey, not the destination” for a reason. Although the destination is rarely an NBA Championship whenever this saying gets thrown around, it still carries some meaningfulness given how incredible it feels to defeat an arch rival or heavily favored opponent.

For the Suns, multiple teams with booked tickets to the playoffs fall into categories such as these. With that said, here are five possible opponents who might make things more exciting for the Suns in the postseason.

Phoenix Suns Opponent #1 – Los Angeles Lakers

The rivalry between the Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers runs deep, with Steve Nash’s Suns and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers as a common marquee matchup throughout the 2000s. This year’s teams though would be an interesting clash of duo-led clubs once more.

LeBron James and Chris Paul both have made their cases as MVP candidates at one point or another during the season. With both friends also being part of the famed “Banana Boat Crew,” the two have also toyed with the idea of teaming up together often in the past.

Oddly enough, both players ended up going to a team in the western pacific division during their career’s back end, with James eventually recruiting Anthony Davis to win a title last year. Meanwhile Paul joined the Suns, teaming up with his own Kentucky stand out in Devin Booker. With their two teams currently occupying the Western Conference’s second and seventh seeds, we may get lucky enough to see this matchup in round one.

Phoenix Suns Opponent #2 – Los Angeles Clippers

This one writes itself out. From 2011-2017 Paul brought excitement to the Clippers organization for the first time in a long time, teaming up with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to create the “Lob City” buzz that went down as a historical run of highlights and playoff appearances. The only thing it never produced? A championship.

Paul was eventually traded to Houston, and later in 2019 the Clippers acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, hoping to once more see title contention. There would be nothing better than to watch Paul chase revenge against the team which he’s made a case for being their greatest player of all time.

Though last year the Clippers had a disastrous run in the playoffs, they have regained their form and are currently slated at the third seed right behind the Suns. Watch for this matchup to play out possibly during the postseason’s second round.

Phoenix Suns Opponent #3 – Portland Trailblazers

If there is ever a team that will test your playoff ability, it’s the Portland Trailblazers. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have been the driving force of this team for almost a decade, formerly ousting highly touted teams like the Russell Westbrook-Paul George-Carmelo Anthony built Oklahoma City Thunder squad.

Lillard and Paul both are premier point guards in this league with lethal scorers in McCollum and Booker by their sides. Centers in Deandre Ayton and Jusuf Nurkic both serve as notable muscle down low too. On paper this, would be a very interesting matchup for the young Suns team to really test their limits against.

Phoenix Suns Opponent #4 – Golden State Warriors

Had Klay Thompson been healthy, this matchup would have been good to watch. But Steph Curry is still playing at an insane MVP level. Paul and Curry have had their battles before, notably during those Rockets vs Warriors playoff bouts, with Paul bothering the Warriors in the conference finals multiple years, only to be defeated.

However this year is different with CP3 now being with Phoenix and Thompson still recovering from an achilles tear. It would be interesting to see the young and inexperienced Suns go against Steph Curry’s championship experience, even while carrying a hurt team.

Phoenix Suns Opponent #5 – Utah Jazz

This one would really serve to determine which is the more dominant team in the west with the Lakers and Warriors battling injuries, the Blazers and Mavericks only finding their stride at this point, and the Nuggets and Clippers building as they go. Amidst all this, the story this season has been the superior play and dominance of the Utah Jazz and Phoenix seemingly since week one.

Utah in many ways has what Phoenix has. A true point guard veteran in Mike Conley, a prolific scoring guard in Donovan Mitchell, and a defensive anchor in Rudy Gobert. The Jazz have the edge on playoff experience as well, making the postseason in each of the last four years. Phoenix instead earned a playoff berth for the first time in a decade this year.

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This one might come into fruition as a Western Conference Finals matchup, and poises to send one of the two teams experiencing a true “dream season” to the league’s biggest stage. There’s a lot that needs to happen until we can really start entertaining the idea of this matchup, but it should still remain something in the back of everyone’s minds.