The Phoenix Suns saw their Pacific Division championship hopes dashed when news broke Thursday night that All-Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle before Wednesday’s victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
ESPN Sources: Suns’ Kevin Durant (left ankle) expected to miss 2-to-3 weeks.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 9, 2023
Durant is expected to miss the remainder of the regular season, and the once Pacific Division favorite has slipped to +150 behind the now-favored Sacramento Kings.
Phoenix Suns after Three Games with Durant in Lineup
The Suns were 3-0 with Durant in the lineup, covering the spread in all three away contests. The Suns forward looked smooth returning from a 2-month layoff and didn’t show any signs of rust after such a long layoff, averaging 27.2 points with 7.3 caroms and a tick over three assists.
Devin Booker averaged 35 points a night alongside Durant. The Suns guard continued his torrid scoring streak Wednesday night, scoring 44 points in just 28 minutes at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Can Phoenix Catch Sacramento without Durant?
In January, we reported the Suns were favored to win the Pacific Division crown, but that was before acquiring Durant. That didn’t change with the acquisition of the former Brooklyn Nets All-Star, and the Sacramento Kings (-160) are now favored to hoist the division banner. Can the Suns catch the Kings without Durant?
With the NBA regular season set to conclude on April 9, the Sacramento Kings have now moved ahead of the Phoenix Suns with the best odds to win the Pacific Division, moving from +130 to -125, per @FDSportsbook.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 10, 2023
Phoenix thrashed OKC, but that was at home, where the Suns are a comfortable 22-10. With 16 games remaining on their schedule, the Suns have nine home contests, with six against probable playoff teams.
- Saturday March 11 – Sacramento
- Tuesday, March 14 – Milwaukee Bucks
- Thursday March 16 – Orlando Magic
- Saturday March 25 – Philadelphia 76ers
- Wednesday March 29 – Minnesota Timberwolves
- Friday March 31 – Denver Nuggets
- Tuesday April 4 – San Antonio
- Thursday April 6 – Denver
- Sunday April 9 – Los Angeles Clippers
Phoenix is 15-19 as the away team, but three of those victories were with Durant in the lineup. Each of their remaining away games is against probable playoff or potential play-in candidates.
- Monday March 13 – Golden State
- Sunday March 19 – Oklahoma City
- Wednesday March 22 – Los Angeles Lakers
- Friday March 24 – Sacramento
- Monday March 27 – Utah Jazz
- Sunday April 2 – Oklahoma City
- Friday April 7 – Los Angeles Lakers
While trading for Durant was a good thing, the Suns traded away some significant depth they didn’t get back-not having Durant in the lineup makes the March 24-25 away-home sequence with Sacramento on the road followed by a home game against Philadelphia tricky.
Phoenix-winning the Pacific was a good bet in January, but +250 isn’t a reasonable price without Durant. The Suns don’t have the depth to beat so many playoff teams, and they were a horrible away team prior to Durant.
Phoenix Suns Future Odds
The Suns’ odds to win the Western Conference (+230) and NBA Championship (+450) and both bets are good ones to make.
Durant is re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks but is expected to return for the playoffs. We’ve seen the seamless integration of Durant into the Phoenix lineup and witnessed how much better Booker was alongside Durant.
That’s a one-two scoring punch that’s hard to beat, and Chris Paul gives the Suns three of the best mid-range shooters and playmakers in the NBA. They could run the table and win the championship with a healthy Durant.
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