Why the Suns most Difficult Playoff Matchup will be in the First Round

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Even with the regular season still ongoing, the Phoenix Suns have had their minds strictly on the playoffs for some time now.  As early as March 9th, the Suns secured a top-six seed in the West, guaranteeing themselves a playoff spot and avoiding the play-in tournament.

However, their ambitions laid higher. Phoenix wanted to secure the entire postseason’s number one seed as well, which they did after beating the Denver Nuggets a few days ago.

So now, their focus lies on getting all their players off the injury report, including Cameron Johnson—who looks on track to return sooner rather than later. The Suns also want to KEEP everyone healthy, sliding through these final few games with ease.

However, they are not the only team trying to defeat the injury bug once and for all this season before the playoffs begin.

The Los Angeles Clippers currently own the Western Conference’s eight seed, and remain likely to hold onto it barring some miracle run by the New Orleans Pelicans. LA has hovered around the .500 mark nearly all year with only Reggie Jackson as their primary scorer.

But last night, they saw a future Hall of Fame piece return to their lineup in Paul George. After finally putting a tricky elbow injury behind him, PG13 returned to action vs the Utah Jazz. Despite not playing since December, the star forward looked remarkably fresh, hitting some clutch shots down the stretch to finish with 34 points on just 20 attempts.

Before the Clippers shelved him for roughly four months, George averaged 25 points, 7 rebounds, and nearly six assists per game—further endorsing his return as a huge boost for LA. But for as impactful as this reinforcement will be for Los Angeles, an even more important one might be brewing out in Clipper Land as well.

For a few weeks now, there have been whispers about a Kawhi Leonard return during the playoffs. Paul George returning is one thing, but a fully healthy George and even a semi-healthy Leonard resemble a terrifying force.

Now, we all know about Kawhi Leonard’s unique personality. No one really knows where Leonard is physically, or when he wants to return to basketball. But it has now been almost a year since his ACL tear—which covers your standard recovery timeline for an injury of that kind.

In last year’s playoffs when the Suns took down the Clippers, it resembled one of that year’s more entertaining series. From the Valley-Oop—to the infamous Chris Paul shove—that series had it all…besides a healthy Kawhi Leonard.

Next. What Will the Suns Playoff Rotation Look Like?. dark

But even if the Clippers do not get the Klaw back, a fully healthy Paul George presents the Suns with no easy task in the first round. He and LA promise to give the Valley Boys a good fight, and get them ready for what is to come.