At the start of the season it appeared that the Phoenix Suns would be battling with the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans for the last two remaining spots in the Western Conference playoff race.
That has not been the case at the start of the season, with the likes of Houston, Memphis and the Clippers struggling. However, the Suns have failed to take advantage and currently sit at a record of 12-16.
Prior to their win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, ESPN.com had a NBA 5-on-5 and asked five of their NBA writers if they thought the Suns could make the playoffs. When asked “buy or sell?” all five responded with “sell.”
Kevin Pelton addressed the woes for other teams that he sees as better options.
Pelton: Sell. Even though the bar in the West doesn’t figure to be high this season, I still think Phoenix is less than a 50-50 bet to make it. There are too many other teams in contention, including more talented ones that have struggled so far.
Known for breaking NBA news, Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst both provided insider tidbits on Phoenix within their answers.
Stein: Sell. This is another group lacking sufficient togetherness to be regarded as top-eight material, even in a supposedly weakened West. I saw it with my own eyes Wednesday night in the visitors’ locker room in Oakland; Phoenix has a lot of growing and meshing to do as a group to find better balance throughout the roster.
Windhorst: Sell. They don’t seem as if they have much of an identity and they’re active in trade talks. They may not even know what they want to be at this point. I think it’s more likely the Rockets and Pelicans rebound and get back in than the Suns.
The hunt for a playoff spot is not going to get any easier for the Suns. As of Saturday morning they are only a half game out of the eight seed, but the real issue is the upcoming schedule.
After their game on Dec. 26 against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Suns play 12 of their next 17 games against teams with a winning record. That includes the last games in 2015 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurts and Oklahoma City Thunder. There’s also a group of games against solid Eastern Conference teams like the Hornets, Heat, Pacers and Celtics.
Somehow it doesn’t get any easier in February. In a reduced month due to the All-Star break, the only games the Suns play against teams with a losing record are the Jazz, Rockets and Nets.
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