The Phoenix Suns have been playing very well overall since the All-Star break. They have won seven of their last 10 games and, more importantly, they have jumped up two spots in the Western Conference. They have passed the Portland Trailblazers and the Utah Jazz. At 10th in the West, they are a half-game behind the Minnesota Timberwolves, but 2 1/2 behind the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, who sit at number seven and number eight.
With the 23 games left in the regular season for the Suns, we have asked our writing staff this roundtable question for the week -- can the Suns keep it up and manage to find themselves in the playoffs?
Here is what they said:
Not to be a negative Nancy but Boris Diaw has a better chance at being the new spokesman for the Trim Spa. It's nice and all that the Suns have won eight of their last 11 but they really aren't built to make one final push, especially with 15 of their final 23 games coming against playoff teams and 14 more road games left. The Rockets made all the right moves and the deadline to maximize their talent and I don't see the Mavericks or the Nuggets dropping out of the race anytime soon. Ultimately though, the Suns will control most of their destiny with two games remaining with Denver, Utah, and Houston each. I just think that the results we've seen in the past few weeks are simply a flash in the pan and this team is more decrepit than it is experienced.
Before Thursday's game against the Clippers, I would've said not likely. But after watching the Suns come back from 17 down in a tough situation (on the road, without Nash or Hill, playing in the second night of a back-to-back-to-back) against one of the better teams in the Western Conference, I think that they have a chance.
This team has been very resilient since the All-Star Break, and I don't see that burning out anytime soon. Phoenix is 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot right now, and the team has a chance to make a run if they keep playing well. Nash has been solid all year, Dudley is starting to emerge as a scoring threat, and the bench has been able to turn games with high-energy performances from one individual or another. I'd put the odds of Phoenix getting into the playoffs at 40% right now.
I don't think it's likely the Suns get in. I do think they can surpass Minnesota without Ricky Rubio, but Denver and Houston are just better teams with more weapons, especially now with the Rockets adding Derek Fisher and Marcus Camby. And the Suns go as Channing Frye goes, and he has never proven to be super consistent. They'll get close but the schedule for the rest of this month looks really tough overall and then again from April 4 on.
I'm an optimist. They can do it. They have shown lately that they can play with anyone. But as Jose noted, it will be difficult to surpass Denver and Houston. Steve Nash noted earlier this season that the team has to rely on timing and chemistry rather than talent. They have to play perfectly cohesive for things to work. That is a lot to ask of an inconsistent team for 23 games.