NBA playoffs are right around the corner, and the Western Conference is stacked with every team fighting for the top seed. Nuggets currently lead the west, 46-21, and they are running away with first. The Suns are the 4th seed in the western conference, and they have a tough row to hoe, beginning with a challenging schedule ahead of them, can they hang on?
The Suns have a difficult schedule down the stretch
The Phoenix Suns have 16 games remaining before the start of the playoffs. Of those 16 games, 9 matches are against opponents above .500 pct. They also have 2 games remaining with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have been rolling after last month’s trade deadline.
With Kevin Durant out of the line-up for 2-3 weeks minimum, the Suns’ defense is a huge concern. When they go against teams like the Bucks with length and Solid perimeter defense, Phoenix may struggle to get shots against them. Meanwhile, on the defensive side, it will be hard to stop superstars like Giannis, and Davis, without length and girth.
Even though the Suns acquired the talents of KD, the defensive presence of Mikal Bridges will be missed during this stretch. Mikal was the key to the Sun’s defense, often taking the challenges of guarding the best offensive players night in, and night out.
The bench needs to find consistency for Phoenix
The addition of players like Terrence Ross and TJ Warren was huge, as they can put up points quickly, as we saw midweek when Ross scored 24 points in a blowout win against OKC.
It is nothing new, as Phoenix has always struggled with consistent production from the bench and relied heavily on the starters to produce. This problem can lead to a scoring drought and the Suns getting outscored when the starters sit.
Phoenix does not have a deep bench that the starters can rely on, unlike the Celtics or the Bucks. Head Coach, Monty Williams, will have to figure out how to get the best out of the bench and the reserves for the tough schedule ahead.
Cam Payne must also be consistent when Paul or Booker subs out, as Payne’s production helped the Suns make huge leaps during the 2021 season. This season Payne has battled a foot injury since late February but has averaged 11 points when he has played.
Anything can happen down the stretch in the West
The Western Conference is as wide as ever. After the unfortunate injury of KD that occurred during warm-ups, the west is in full swing. The Suns are six games ahead of the Clippers and five behind the Grizzlies for third place.
If the playoffs were to start today Suns would be battling the Clippers in the first round. It is important for the Suns to hold the 4th seed and not fall below, as they do not want to enter the play-in tournament.