The 2018-19 NBA schedule has officially been released, but for a team facing low expectations on the outside, which Phoenix Suns games are must-watch TV?
Last year, the Phoenix Suns posted the worst record, point differential, offensive rating and defensive rating in the entire NBA. Suffice it to say they weren’t a top priority on the league’s list of premier games for the upcoming season.
However, with the 2018-19 NBA schedule being released on Friday, Suns fans probably spent their afternoon scouring the 82-game slate for the most notable head-to-heads, whether they featured elite opponents, familiar faces returning to the Valley of the Sun or just fun matchups in general.
The prospect of another season of growing pains is an intolerable one for most casual supporters, but true Suns fans — who already that know rooting for a team with zero championships and hundreds of heartbreaks in its 50-year history comes with a touch of masochism — will be sitting through as much of the full season as possible.
For the sake of highlighting must-see games for those who occasionally tune in and covering what there is to look forward to for those who slog through the full 82, it’s worth taking a look at the upcoming schedule and pinpointing the games that stand out from the pack.
First, a couple of quick notes from the 2018-19 NBA schedule:
The Suns’ 12-back-to-backs are the fewest in team history. Phoenix only has three nationally televised games to look forward to: Oct. 17 against the Dallas Mavericks (ESPN), Oct. 30 against the San Antonio Spurs (ESPN) and Dec. 13 against the Mavs (TNT).
The Suns also have five NBA TV games: Nov. 19 at the Philadelphia 76ers, Dec. 19 at the Boston Celtics, March 10 at the Golden State Warriors, April 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers and April 7 at the Houston Rockets.
Bearing all this in mind, it’s time to jump into the Phoenix Suns’ most intriguing games of the upcoming season, starting with a couple of honorable mentions that couldn’t be overlooked because unfortunately, our top five all reside in the current year before the calendar flips to 2019.
- Dec. 4 vs. Sacramento Kings — Normally, the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the draft going head-to-head would be more enticing. While a big man showdown between Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III should be fun, they don’t really play the same position. Plus, ya know, it’s another Suns vs. Kings game.
- Feb. 4 vs. Houston Rockets — The first time the Rockets rolled into town last season, they dropped 142 points on the Suns’ heads. With Trevor Ariza facing his old team for the first time, here’s hoping that’s not the case again this year.
- March 15 @ Houston Rockets — Trevor Ariza returns to Houston for the first time. For whatever reason, Phoenix actually gave the Rockets a great game the last time they visited Clutch City, only to be bested at the buzzer by former Sun Gerald Green.
- Anytime the Suns play the Utah Jazz — Suns Twitter and Jazz Twitter hate each other, mostly thanks to debates about Devin Booker vs. Donovan Mitchell. So yes, rest assured Suns fans already have Feb. 6, March 13, March 25 and April 3 circled on their calendars.
- April 9 @ Dallas Mavericks — The final chapter of rookie Deandre Ayton vs. rookie Luka Doncic. Sure, most of the starters on both teams will sit if the Suns and Mavs are out of the playoff picture (as most expect), but don’t forget what Alec Peters did in a similar situation last year. THIS IS WHEN UNDERDOGS BECOME HEROES.