by Brett Edwards
Although none of the playoff spots are officially locked up yet in the West except for (presumably Dallas as the one seed, most people don't expect much to change before the playoffs start. The Suns and Spurs are expected to stay two-three, and the Lakers and Nuggets are expected to stay six-seven. I don't necessarily agree that these seeds are set in stone, especially considering there are only two games separating the Suns and Spurs, and just two-and-a-half games between the Lakers and Nuggs. But I'll play along for the sake of this discussion.
The Suns are just 3-4 in their last seven since beating Dallas in that epic double-OT game a couple of weeks ago, and the question is, are they doing it on purpose? The Lakers are pretty much a one man show, and Phoenix has a chip on their shoulder when facing Kobe and company that goes back to last year's playoffs. So it's not totally out of the question to think they might be positioning themselves for a first round run at the Lakers instead of the Nuggets. Denver recently handled the Suns just fine (including A.I. dropping 40+), and present more problems on both ends of the floor than the Lakers do.
My opinion? The Suns aren't tanking, but they definitely have packed it in for the rest of the regular season. We'll know this for sure after Sunday's rematch with Dallas, which I expect the Mavs to win by double digits. But if for some reason the Suns are hoping for the Lakers in the first round, they should be careful of what they're wishing for. Of course the Lakers as a whole can't match up with the Suns, but I'm guessing nobody wants to see Kobe in these playoffs.