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By the numbers: Suns face tough odds with remaining schedule

Phoenix Suns forward TJ Warren, right, blocks the shot of Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 112-93. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Before getting into what the remainder of the Phoenix Suns’ schedule means with regard to the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, the All-Star break allows for an analysis of the 23 games left on the 2017-18 plate.

For the Suns, it’s not easy.

At 18-41 as of the All-Star game, Phoenix is tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst record in the NBA, though a whole six teams are tied with a league-low 18 victories so far.

Here are a few quick numbers about the task ahead for the Suns when the post-All-Star break begins Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.

2

Phoenix opened the year projected to have the most difficult schedule, mostly thanks to the post-All-Star game plate, and that looks pretty accurate after 59 games have been played. Per Basketball-Reference.com, only the San Antonio Spurs have a more difficult remaining schedule.

5

Phoenix faces five teams that are among the six-worst squads by winning percentage at the break. So mark these games on the calendar: The Suns play the Grizzlies (Feb. 28), Hawks (March 4), Magic (March 24), Kings (April 3) and Mavericks (April 10) down the stretch. All of those teams entered the All-Star breaks with 18 wins, the same as the Suns, meaning each of those dates will be key in the tanking rankings.

7

For Phoenix, seven more games come against top-5 teams in terms of winning percentage over the All-Star break. That would include the Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Suns do not play the 41-16 Toronto Raptors after losing to them twice before All-Star weekend.

10

A 10-game stretch from March 13 into April 1 marks the dooming stretch for the Suns. With an exception of a March 24 game at the Orlando Magic, they play only teams that should be in the playoff hunt — assuming 28-29 Detroit doesn’t fall off from chasing the eight-seeded Miami Heat, who have faltered with a 3-7 record in their last 10 games.

14

Just seven of 23 remaining games for the Suns come against teams with sub-.500 records. That means 14 come against winning squads. Phoenix faces the league-leading, 44-13 Houston Rockets once (March 30) and the next-best Golden State Warriors three times (March 17, April 1 and April 8).

The Suns also face the revamped Cleveland Cavaliers (March 13), the red-hot Utah Jazz (March 15), the 40-19 Boston Celtics (March 26), and the 33-26 Oklahoma City Thunder twice (March 2 and March 8).

15

Fifteen of Phoenix’s remaining games on the schedule will feature Western Conference foes.

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