The guard trio of Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green has lifted the Phoenix Suns into playoff position. The margin for error in the final five games is very thin, however, and they’ll mostly be away from home.
That includes a three-game trip which has two tough matchups in Texas, so that seems to make Wednesday night’s opener against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans a potential win that Phoenix can’t afford to blow.
"It’s all or nothing right now," Green said. "We don’t have a month left to try and make up. We only got a few more games, so it’s win or go home for us."
Green keyed two impressive performances over the weekend against playoff-bound teams. He had 32 points in Friday’s 109-93 win at Portland, then scored 24 in a 122-115 victory over Northwest Division champion Oklahoma City on Sunday.
"It’s a big win for us," Dragic said. "We’re a step closer, but we’re still a long way from our goal."
Dragic was in a 15-of-49 shooting slump (30.6 percent) after missing all three of his attempts in the first quarter, but hit 11 of 16 the rest of the way to finish with 26 points. The Suns (46-31) shot a season-best 58.4 percent.
Phoenix, which also beat the Thunder last month, has won eight of 10.
"We feel like every game we play we can win, throughout the league," said P.J. Tucker, who scored 11 of his career-best 22 points in the fourth quarter. "We have confidence that we can play with anybody in the league."
They’ll play the NBA’s best Friday with a game at San Antonio, then visit Dallas the next night in a matchup of teams battling for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. Phoenix is a game ahead of ninth-place Memphis, which hosts Miami on Wednesday. The Suns’ only remaining home game is Monday against the Grizzlies, who have clinched that season series tiebreaker.
Having Bledsoe back in action has keyed the playoff push. The Suns are 22-2 when he has more than 15 points, including 8-0 since his return from knee surgery March 12. Bledsoe had a career-high 30 points Friday and 18 on Sunday.
He totaled 49 points on 17-of-23 shooting in two wins over New Orleans in November, then missed the most recent matchup Feb. 28 as Dragic scored a career-high 40 in a 116-104 victory.
That leaves Phoenix in position to sweep this season series for the first time since 2006-07 even though the Pelicans (32-45) had a healthy Anthony Davis for all three meetings. He scored 32 in the last one and had double-doubles in the first two, but it’s unclear how much he’ll play Wednesday – if at all – due to back spasms.
"He doesn’t want to let anybody down, but if he doesn’t start to look better in the next couple of days, we have to make a decision on going forward," coach Monty Williams said after Sunday’s 100-94 loss at Portland.
Davis had 11 points in the first quarter but only four after that and finished 6 of 18 from the field. He wasn’t able to finish either of the previous two games.
"As a leader of the team, I want to be on the floor and try to win every game no matter if we’re going to the playoffs or not," Davis said.
The Pelicans definitely are not, having lost five straight to fall deeper into the Southwest basement. However, they can be tough to beat in New Orleans, having defeated Miami, Brooklyn and the Clippers there last month.
Williams said Tuesday he doesn’t expect Eric Gordon, out since March 21 due to knee tendinitis, to play again this season. Gordon has averaged 15.4 points in 64 games.