What’s at stake in each of the Suns’ remaining games?


UPDATED: MARCH 21, 2023 AT 1:09 PM

Kevin Durant’s potential return after a reevaluation is still a week away from the Phoenix Suns.

Meanwhile, his team is clinging to a first-round home playoff date as one of the top four seeds.

There are eleven games left in the 2022-23 regular season, and it is not easy at all.

The Suns have the fifth-best opposing lineup remaining by record. Only one of those opponents is from the Eastern Conference, and only one is not on the playoff roster.

Here’s a snapshot of how the opponents are playing right now and what those teams have to play for.

Wednesday March 22: at the Lakers

Trend: Up

The current No. 11 seed in the Western Conference, Los Angeles, is a half-game behind the three teams that currently hold the bottom three play-in seeds (Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Utah).

The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 and may be reassessing the health of LeBron James (foot) in the near future. Painful losses to Houston and Dallas (still without Luka Doncic) set Los Angeles back, but Anthony Davis and a rising Austin Reaves have been exerting enough influence.

Friday, March 24 — at Kings

Trend: Up

Not only is the Beam Team within five games of the third-place Suns, but it’s just one game behind the second seed in the West, although taking that spot from the Memphis Grizzlies will be a bit more difficult because they’re expected to Ja Morant back on the court starting Wednesday.

Sacramento beat Phoenix in their last meeting behind a strong second and fourth quarter.

Saturday, March 25 — vs. Sixers

Trend: Up

Philadelphia is one of the best teams in the NBA and closes on the heels of the Boston Celtics, who have a half-game lead in the Eastern Conference standings.

The 76ers were riding an eight-game winning streak before losing a thrilling double overtime against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

For the Suns, it’s good news that their matchup marks the second night in a row after Golden State hosts MVP leader Joel Embiid, who has scored 35 points in eight of his last 10 games.

Monday, March 27 — in Jazz

Trend: 50-50 ball

Somehow, the Jazz are still clinging to their postseason hopes after a tight trade deadline cut more talent from the roster. Interestingly, the talent that left at the deadline, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, are with the Lakers team just behind Utah in the standings.

Wednesday, March 29 — vs. t wolves

Trend: 50-50 ball

Anthony Edwards (ankle) and Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) could return this week. Edwards was injured on March 17, but Towns hasn’t played since November 28. His presence could be a boost or too late addition for a T-Wolves team that struggled to fit in down the stretch alongside shot blocker Rudy. Gobert in the opening weeks of the regular season.

Saturday, March 31 — vs. Nuggets

Trend: Down

Denver has had a fight lately, with head coach Michael Malone going to the microphone criticize your team a week ago.

They could be bored sitting on top of the West without being challenged. We’ll see if the Suns get a raise from them.

Sunday, April 2 — at Thunder

Trend: Up

The Thunder have won seven of their last nine with notable victories against the Suns, Pelicans, Warriors and Jazz (twice). Certainly, that’s a bad matchup for the Suns as was exposed in their win against Phoenix on Sunday. In any case, OKC is fighting for a play-in seed.

Tuesday, April 4: vs. spurs

Trend: 50-50 ball

Here I could be completely in “tremble for Wembanyama” mode.

Thursday, April 6: vs. Nuggets

Trend: Down

Another encounter that could herald a 1-4 matchup in the second round if the standings stay as they are.

Friday April 7: at the Lakers

Trend: Up

There’s a high chance this one could determine Los Angeles’ postseason chances. Or at least, it will have seeding implications. However, the Lakers close out the year two days later against Utah, which, again, could also be fighting for one of the last play-in spots.

Sunday April 9: vs. Clippers

Trend: 50-50 ball

These two squads are 0.5 games apart as of Tuesday. Phoenix has a 2-1 season record against the Clippers. Even if they finish the year tied for record, the Suns are on pace to hold the final tiebreaker (conference record), unless they fall apart down the stretch in any significant way.