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‘Schedule of Death?’ Phoenix Had Durant

Phoenix gets a boost from Durant to stay in playoff contention.

The Phoenix Suns defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-87 in the 2023-2024 NBA regular season on Saturday (Jan. 6) at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

With the win, Phoenix moved into sixth place in the Western Conference. The difference between sixth and seventh place is a world of difference. That’s because the seventh through 10th place teams advance to a single-elimination play-in tournament. Sixth place goes directly to the first round of the playoffs. The Western Conference is solid all the way up to the 10th-ranked Golden State Warriors. 스포츠토토 Once you get to the single-elimination play-in tournament, anything can happen.

Phoenix had a big upset. On Feb. 26, the Suns led for most of the game against the San Antonio Spurs before losing their focus in the fourth quarter and falling 102-104 in overtime. With one game in hand, losing to the underdog San Antonio was a devastating blow.

The problem was Phoenix’s schedule going forward. The rest of the season, the Suns face teams with a winning percentage of more than 5 percent. Most of them are even direct playoff contenders in the Western Conference. The schedule included back-to-back games against the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Minnesota.

In crunch time, Phoenix’s game started to come alive. The big three of Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, and Kevin Durant were devastating when they were on.

Durant, in particular, has been incredible. Durant, who has already played 70 games this season and is Phoenix’s most prolific player, has been consistent throughout the season. He’s averaging 27.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game this season and is still one of the best players in the NBA.

Phoenix’s reliance on Durant is enormous. Durant is a key player for Phoenix on both offense and defense. On offense, he not only scores, but also orchestrates the offense and is the go-to guy for one-on-one offense in clutch situations. Defensively, he covers a lot of ground on the perimeter, as Phoenix doesn’t have a long forward. The acquisition of Royce O’Neal at the trade deadline took some of the pressure off Durant’s defense.

Arguably Phoenix’s driving force this season, Durant’s play has really shined down the stretch. Durant has scored 20 or more points in each of his last eight games. The only time he failed to reach 20 points was on Dec. 22 against the Atlanta Hawks, where he scored 19 points.

Booker is explosive on offense with 40-plus and 50-plus point games, but he has his ups and downs. Durant, on the other hand, doesn’t have Booker’s explosiveness, but his consistency has kept Phoenix’s offense afloat.

While Durant’s play has gotten them over the hump, Phoenix’s season is far from over. With six games left in the season, they are only one game behind the seventh-place New Orleans Pelicans. Their remaining six games are against New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Minnesota, all of whom are in the top half of the Western Conference. It’s a must-win situation for Phoenix to clinch a direct playoff berth.

Can Durant lead Phoenix to the playoffs?

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