Suns 4th in the West, but Vegas says they're first
The Phoenix Suns ended their regular season Sunday and can now prepare for the goal they've had since losing to Milwaukee in 2021 — returning to the NBA Finals.
The big picture: The Suns are the fourth seed in the West after finishing the regular season with a 45-37 record, but Vegas oddsmakers have Phoenix as the favorite to win the Western Conference and the third most likely team to win it all, behind Milwaukee and Boston.
Zoom in: Phoenix will play the L.A. Clippers in the first round.
- Play-in games to determine the seventh and eighth seeds begin Tuesday and conclude Friday, with the first-round games beginning the next day.
The intrigue: The Suns haven't lost a game yet with Kevin Durant in the lineup following new owner Mat Ishbia's blockbuster trade to bring the future Hall of Famer to Phoenix, going 8-0 in games where KD suits up.
- He's averaging 26 points per game off 57% shooting, including 53.7% from 3-point range, since coming to Phoenix.
- They lost their last two games of the season, when they were resting Durant and fellow starters Deandre Ayton, Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
- Phoenix was locked into the fourth seed, with home-court advantage in the first round, no matter what after their April 4 win over San Antonio, so the outcome of their final three games were effectively meaningless.
Between the lines: Backup point guard Cameron Payne and backup center Bismack Biyombo both left the court after getting hurt during the Suns' second-to-last game of the season, a loss to the Lakers on Friday, and didn't play Sunday in the season finale against the Clippers.
- Biyombo told The Arizona Republic he's optimistic he'll be ready for the Suns' postseason opener Saturday.
- Unlike Biyombo, Payne continued against the Lakers, but sat out the second half, and head coach Monty Williams is optimistic about his return as well.
1 big retirement: The team honored longtime announcer Al McCoy, who's retiring after 51 seasons as the voice of the Suns.
What they're saying: In his halftime speech, McCoy recalled a quote he read on the wall of an arena in Philadelphia many years ago: "To play the game is great. To win the game is greater. But to love the game is the greatest of all."
- "And I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in this arena this afternoon, to all of those watching and listening on radio and TV, a 'thank you' for allowing me to tell the story of the Suns for 51 great years," McCoy said.
- "But wait a minute. Just a minute," he said to conclude his speech. "We have got a lot of basketball games to win, right? All right. So let's go. Shazam!"
More Phoenix stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Phoenix.