If you are a Phoenix Suns fan and are not entirely thrilled about the 2013-14 season, don't feel bad. If the announcement of the regular-season schedule doesn't have you circling dates and canceling appointments, you are not alone.
Suns fans have every right to expect very little from their team this year because that's probably what they'll get.
Of course, sports play out in unpredictable ways all the time, and there's enough talent on the Phoenix roster to turn heads during the upcoming season.
Even if they don't, here's five games that you, as a loyal Suns fan, should look forward to. Otherwise, what's the point?
The Suns will open the season with two winnable home games, but are still going to be underdogs on opening night when they take on the much-improved Portland Trailblazers.
They should be able to bounce back with their first win of the season in their second game.
The Utah Jazz will enter Phoenix not having played a road game in 2013-14. This will prove to be daunting, as the Jazz are likely to feature the least experienced lineup in the Western Conference, with 103 career starts between their five projected starters.
It would also be fitting that Jeff Hornacek wins his first game as a head coach against his former team.
Phoenix will be hungry to split its opening home stand, and Suns fans can expect their team to be .500 on November 2. It may be their only time at the .500 mark all year, as they'll embark on a three-game road trip the following day.
Even though it will still be the season's first month, the Suns will likely enter Miami well under .500.
As demoralizing as losing early in the season can be for a team, there's little doubt that the young Suns will be enthusiastic and optimistic entering their Nov. 25 tilt with the Miami Heat. Playing the reigning NBA champions is always a special moment regardless of how good or bad a team is—but it means a little more for bad teams, as an upset win can give growing players invaluable confidence moving forward.
Of course, it's extremely unlikely that the Suns will leave Miami with a win, but they'll be going up against the top team of the era and thus be competing with house money. This won't be a highlight of the season for Phoenix fans (barring a miracle), but it will be for the players. Especially for Michael Beasley, who has a chance to make the Heat regret trading him—if only for 48 minutes.
On Jan. 30 of 2013, the Suns beat the LA Lakers in Steve Nash's return to Phoenix.
The game was likely the highlight of Phoenix's 2012-13 season and has the potential to be an even bigger success this year. There is a good chance that the Lakers will enter this game under .500 and outside of the playoff picture in the West. In fact, Nash, Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers could be in for one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Not only might the Suns again beat their divisional rivals, but they'll relish it even more.
In fact, the Lakers may even leave Phoenix in envy of the Suns; another non-playoff team that at least has young talent and a better cap situation.
The Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns always seem to engage in exciting, close games, regardless of each team's current standing.
Last time Golden State swept the season series 4-0, but the two games played in Phoenix were decided by a combined total of six points.
Not only will this Feb. 8 showdown likely be close, but Suns fans will have an opportunity to watch Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes play; they should be one of the most fun-to-watch trios in the NBA this season. While the Warriors will almost certainly be favored, this game may provide Phoenix its best chance at beating a premier team all season.
Anything is possible, but there is a 99 percent chance that this game will be entirely meaningless for both the Suns and the Sacramento Kings. Of course, the more meaningless a game is, the more meaningful it becomes near the end of the season.
This is because both Phoenix and Sacramento will likely be jockeying for lottery positioning.
They may in fact be fighting for the bottom spot in the conference. And being the last game of the season, there's a high probability that at least one of these teams will earn a better shot at Andrew Wiggins by the end of it.
Right now, Suns players and fans should obviously hold out hope that this game may mean something far more important than a few percentage points in the lottery.
But in six months, it's okay if that hope has worn off.