By the numbers: Suns face tough odds with remaining schedule
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Fifteen of Phoenix’s remaining games on the schedule will feature Western Conference foes.
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