The Suns are many things. Under Alvin Gentry they have returned to being one of the most entertaining teams in basketball. Their games generally include several exciting plays, numerous emotional peaks and valleys as both teams put on runs, high scoring, and a few spectacular defensive plays as their frenetic style leads to some very entertaining shot-blocking.
One thing they were not, are not, and will not be is a threat to the Blazers' play-off position. Oh, sure, the Blazers "magic number" deals with how many games Portland must win or Phoenix must lose to guarantee a Blazer playoff entry. So from that standpoint, watching Phoenix lose could be considered a good thing. But it is a mistake.
The Jazz are a different case entirely. Deron Williams is very entertaining to watch. They put up a lot of points, score inside and out, and have some solid defenders. They are also a team that is one-half game behind the Blazers in the race for playoff positioning.
With nine games left to play for the Blazers it might be tough to run down Denver or Houston, the two teams that are a game and a half ahead of the Blazers. Running down either of them would get Portland home court advantage in the first round, something they desperately need in order to advance to the second round.
Of the two, Houston is the more likely. Denver has the easiest schedule of any of the teams fighting for the two through seven seeds and has shown all year that they are a worthy team. Houston has also shown they can play without Tracy McGrady and is the odds on favorite to retain the fourth playoff seed. That means if Portland stays in the fourth or fifth playoff slot their likely opponent will be either the Nuggets or Rockets.
Portland has struggled against both teams, but it is the Nuggets who seem to have the greater dominance. Thus it would behoove Portland to stay in the fifth position in order to have the more favorable match up. In order to do that, they must stay ahead of two very talented teams:the Jazz and Hornets.
As a result, whenever Phoenix plays the Jazz or Hornets, the best interests of the Blazers are clear:a Phoenix win. Blazer fans need to wake up and realize their team is not only good enough to make the playoffs, it is good enough to put a good scare into any of the teams they are likely to face and even a first round win, while an upset, would not be on the level of the Mavericks-Warriors series a couple ago. Instead, it would be a minor upset at best.
But to enhance the likelihood of that, they need to worry about improving their playoff seeding, not about merely making the playoffs. Making the playoffs is not enough. They need to win a couple of games.
With that in mind, one thing is clear. As far as Blazers fans are concerned, the Suns don't matter. Finding ways for the Jazz and Hornets to lose games...and if possible, the Rockets and Nuggets as well.
Is it likely Portland will run down either team ahead of them, get home court, and win a playoff series? Nope. But it is certainly more likely than the Suns coming back and knocking the Blazers out.
Instead of worrying about teams 6-1/2 games behind them in the playoff race, Portland fans need to wake up and realize the real goal. Finding a way to sneak into a home court advantage for the first round.