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Suns must take advantage of favorable early schedule

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe, left, is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

To be a playoff team in a difficult Western Conference, there isn’t much room for slipping up. When you come across a stretch of games against mostly inferior competition, you have to take advantage.

As the Phoenix Suns set out to end their five-year stretch without a playoff berth, their early season schedule sets up nicely for a positive start.

Four of Phoenix’s first six games are at Talking Stick Resort Arena starting Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks. That’s followed by a home-and-home versus the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday, a road game opposite the Los Angeles Clippers next Monday and then a return home to face the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons on Nov. 4 and Nov. 6, respectively.

There’s only one back-to-back and that comes against a team also dealing with the same situation (Trail Blazers).

The Suns get the Mavericks at the perfect time — Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams each only played in one preseason game, plus Chandler Parsons isn’t expected to be ready to start the regular season.

Yes, four of the six games are against playoff teams from last season, but that doesn’t tell the real story. Dallas and Portland aren’t considered favorites to return to the postseason, the Kings are an unknown and the Pistons are a borderline playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

In all likelihood, the Suns will be favorites in Las Vegas for four to five games in their first six games between Oct. 26 and Nov. 6. The matchup they’re guaranteed not to be is at the Clippers — and possibly at the Blazers.

Despite a 28-20 start to the 2014-15 season, there were many missteps along the way that ended up being a sign of bad things to come. The Suns lost to the Utah Jazz (pre All-Star break bad Jazz), Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks before the end of December.

These are the type of losses the Suns need to avoid to scoot past expectations. Phoenix’s first six games won’t make or break its season, but winning the games the Suns are supposed to is the easiest way to put themselves in a position to succeed. The Suns can establish that ideology by doing just that starting on Wednesday.


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