Apr 10, 2023 - Sports

Suns 4th in the West, but Vegas says they're first

Four men stand on a basketball court wearing black uniforms with white and orange lettering.

The Suns will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. Photo: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

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!"

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