Phoenix would have to win 32 of its last 42 games just to finish with a .500 record at 41-41.
That's not happening, especially with the Suns (9-31) reeling on a five-game losing skid, after falling to the Clippers 121-111 on Friday.
So how about 31 wins?
It would still be a fifth straight losing season, but a 10-win increase from having the NBA’s worst record of 21-61 last season would be a noticeable improvement.
Other teams are in the midst of making that kind of leap.
Sacramento (19-19) is in the playoff mix after winning just 27 games last season while the Los Angeles Lakers (21-17) have nearly exceeded last season’s win total (25).
Adding LeBron James has played a little part in the Lakers' resurgence.
Looking at Phoenix’s remaining schedule, are there 22 wins to be had to reach that number?
Going into Friday’s games, 14 of the remaining 24 teams on Phoenix’s schedule have a .500 or losing record:
- Cleveland (8-30)
- New York (9-29)
- Chicago (10-28)
- Atlanta (11-26)
- Washington (15-23)
- Detroit (17-19)
- Minnesota (17-21)
- New Orleans (17-22)
- Utah (18-20)
- Memphis (18-19)
- Charlotte (18-19)
- Dallas (18-19)
- Miami (18-18)
- Sacramento (19-19)
The Suns play the Jazz four times, the Kings and Pelicans three times and the Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, Timberwolves and Cavaliers twice.
They face the Heat, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and Grizzlies one more time.
Phoenix should look at Cleveland, New York, Chicago and Washington as must-wins.
The Cavs have a worse record, the Hawks nearly do, and neither is more talented than the Suns.
Phoenix already beat New York by 18 at Madison Square Garden. It shouldn’t lose the rematch at home.
The Suns lost at Chicago. They shouldn’t get swept by a team that’s having just as bad a season.
Then there’s the Wizards, whom Phoenix should’ve beaten in regulation before losing in three overtimes.
That game should feature Trevor Ariza returning to Phoenix after a short stint that ended in an early trade. Fans will be up for that one, and Suns players should be, too.
Wins over the Knicks, Bulls and Wizards as well as each remaining pair against the Cavaliers and Hawks would put Phoenix at 16 wins.
That leaves Detroit, Minnesota, New Orleans, Utah, Memphis, Charlotte, Dallas, Miami and Sacramento for a total of 19 games. All these teams have playoff aspirations.
They’re going to be tougher outs, but let’s say Phoenix beats the Hornets, Mavericks, Kings, Timberwolves and Pelicans, avenges losses to Miami and Detroit and beats Memphis at home.
Throw in two wins over Utah. After all, Kokoskov knows all that Jazz from having just coached there.
That’s 10 more wins that’d give them 26 – and leave the Suns with five more for 31.
Now it gets tough.
Check out the remaining 10 teams Phoenix has left to play:
- Milwaukee (26-10)
- Toronto (28-12)
- Denver (25-11)
- Golden State (25-14)
- Indiana (25-12)
- Houston (22-15)
- Portland (22-16)
- San Antonio (22-17)
- Los Angeles Clippers (22-16)
- Los Angeles Lakers (21-17)
The Suns play the Rockets three times and the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Warriors and Lakers twice. They face the Spurs, Clippers, Bucks, Raptors and Pacers one more time.
That’s a total of 16 games. Could Phoenix win five of these?
The Suns owe the Lakers, Blazers and Spurs for handing them embarrassing losses. With two more against the Nuggets, they should want to split one of those.
They had a chance to beat Indiana at home. Why not finish the job in Indianapolis?
They stunned Milwaukee on the road and should have the confidence to upset the Bucks again.
There are few of what would people would call sure victories on Phoenix’s schedule.
However, the more wins the Suns get against teams they’re not supposed to beat, the better chance they have of finishing the season with 10 more wins than they had last season.
Twenty of Phoenix’s last 42 games are at home. The Suns are currently 5-16 at home.
A lot of factors go into this:
Injuries. They happen over the course of 82 games.
Timing. When do the Suns play each team? Phoenix has a four-game stretch when it follows up a home game against Portland with three on the road against Denver, the Lakers and San Antonio. On the flip side, Milwaukee concludes a five-game trip in Phoenix in March.
Trades before Feb. 7 deadline. With a young team looking just as much into the future as the present, if not more, a trade is highly possible.
Flow. How are the Suns playing? How are the teams they face playing?
Playoffs: Are their opponents in the playoff hunt or not? If the opponent is, can it afford to rest players and maintain a certain playoff seeding?
All of this is subjective. Some Suns fans might want them to tank another season to increase the odds of bringing Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett to the desert, but a fourth straight season of 20 or so wins won’t sit well with most.
Back to 31.
Can Phoenix win 22 out of its last 42 to reach that number?
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