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ESPN NBA insider says Phoenix Suns have too steep a mountain to climb to make playoffs

LISTEN: Jon Barry, ESPN NBA analyst

With just 11 games left in the 2014-15 regular season, the Phoenix Suns are still in contention for one of the Western Conference’s eight playoff spots.

Powered by a four-game winning streak, that included a tough 98-92 win over the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night, the Suns trail the Oklahoma City Thunder by 2.5 games for the final playoff invitation.

With improved recent play, there is some optimism that the Suns just might be able to get it done, although an ESPN NBA insider threw a bucket of cold water on the idea Monday.

“I don’t think so,” Jon Barry told Doug and Wolf when asked about the Suns’ postseason aspirations. “I’ll give them a lot of credit. They’re hanging tough and they’ve had some great wins of late — four in a row — to hang in the race.”

Barry didn’t dismiss the Suns on their own merits. He’s just more impressed with what’s going on with the Thunder.

“What Russell Westbrook is doing is incredible,” he said. “And the kid they got — Enes Kanter from Utah — the two of them make them a very formidable team. I don’t think they’re going to beat the Warriors if they get in, but those two guys have been absolutely sensational.”

The Thunder, despite injuries to reigning league MVP Kevin Durant and forward Serge Ibaka, have the third-best winning percentage (.706) in the Western Conference since the All-Star break. Their consistent play has made it hard for the Suns to pick up any real ground.

Westbrook has nearly averaged a triple-double in that span, putting up 31.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 11.3 assists per contest. Since being acquired in a deal at the deadline last month, Kanter is averaging 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds a night.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit too much for Phoenix to come back from three games at this point,” Barry said.

The Suns do play the Thunder one more time this season — next Sunday night at US Airways Center in Phoenix. Oklahoma City has won two of the first three meetings, but the Suns prevailed in the most recent one, winning 117-113 in overtime on Feb. 26.