Phoenix Suns 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

Roberto Payne@@HouseofPayne555Contributor IJuly 30, 2012

Phoenix Suns 2012-13 Schedule: Monthly Breakdown and W-L Predictions

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    The Phoenix Suns have undergone a complete make over since the end of last season. The biggest news is the departure of Steve Nash, two-time MVP and face of the franchise.

    Incoming are Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Wesley Johnson and Kendall Marshall. Half the team is new to town, but excitement is rich in the desert.

    For the first time in years, the team is getting younger and looks to be contenders for a lower playoff seed, which should be refreshing for fans, as the team has struggled in the past two seasons to find its identity.

    Read on for a full-season breakdown with predictions for all 82 fast-paced games for the Phoenix Suns.

October/November Schedule

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    Wednesday, October 31 vs. Golden State Warriors

    Friday, November 2 vs. Detroit Pistons

    Sunday, November 4 at Orlando Magic

    Monday, November 5 at Miami Heat

    Wednesday, November 7 at Charlotte Bobcats

    Friday, November 9 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

    Saturday, November 10 at Utah Jazz

    Monday, November 12 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Wednesday, November 14 vs. Chicago Bulls

    Friday, November 16 at Los Angeles Lakers

    Saturday, November 17 vs. Miami Heat

    Wednesday, November 21 vs. Portland Trail Blazers

    Friday, November 23 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Sunday, November 25 at Philadelphia 76ers

    Wednesday, November 28 at Detroit Pistons

    Friday, November 30 at Toronto Raptors

Key October/November Games

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    Sunday, November 5 at Miami Heat

    This will be the first time in almost two years that the Phoenix Suns get a shot at the Miami Heat in the desert. Unlike the last matchup between these teams, the Heat are now the defending champs and have a huge target on their backs. You have to circle the calendar anytime you play the defending champs.

    Wednesday, November 14 vs. Chicago Bulls

    The Chicago Bulls may not have Derrick Rose for this game, but they are talented nonetheless. Expect an exciting game between these two teams.

    Friday, November 16 at Los Angeles Lakers

    This is, hands-down, the must-see matchup of the month for the Suns. Every game against the Lakers is a must-see, but this game has extra excitement, as it's the first game against Steve Nash and his new Laker teammates. Phoenix has the chance to best the Lakers and former Suns savior Steve Nash in one night. Don't miss a second of this game.

    Saturday, November 17 vs. Miami Heat

    The second matchup of the month between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns will be their last of the 2012-13 season. If things don't go Phoenix's way in the first matchup, this will be a redemption game at home. This should be the loudest home game of the first month of the season.

    Friday, November 23 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    This game isn't against a top-tier team, but the offseason movements by these two teams have made this a marquee matchup. The Suns signed Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet, only to see the Hornets match and keep their budding star. A couple weeks later, both teams took part in a three team trade that sent Robin Lopez to New Orleans.

    October/November W-L Prediction: 10-7

    Wins: Pistons (twice), Bobcats, Cavs (twice), Trail Blazers, Hornets, Raptors, Warriors, Magic

    Losses: Heat (twice), Jazz, Nuggets, Bulls, Lakers, 76ers

Preview and Predictions for October/November

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of October/November

    It has to be Goran Dragic going head-to-head with his former mentor in Steve Nash. It's a great test for Dragic so early on in the season and should gauge how far Dragic has come since he last partnered with Nash two years ago.

    It will be interesting to see who gets the better of who in this epic showdown.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for October/November

    The Phoenix Suns shock the NBA with road wins against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat en route to a 7-0 start. Add in a win against Steve Nash and the Los Angeles Lakers, and the first month of the season is a huge success as the new-look Suns go 12-4, making a playoff berth the talk of the town.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for October/November

    The lights are turned off in the Valley of the Sun, as Phoenix slides out of the gate with tough losses to the Charlotte Bobcats and Golden State Warriors. Doomed by a 1-5 start, the team loses five of the next six and never gains momentum. A 4-12 record previews what could be a third consecutive season the team misses the playoffs.

December Schedule

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    Sunday, December 2 at New York Knicks

    Tuesday, December 4 at Memphis Grizzlies

    Thursday, December 6 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Saturday, December 8 at Los Angeles Clippers

    Sunday, December 9 vs. Orlando Magic

    Wednesday, December 12 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Friday, December 14 vs. Utah Jazz

    Monday, December 17 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Wednesday, December 19 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    Saturday, December 22 at Portland Trail Blazers

    Sunday, December 23 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Wednesday, December 26 vs. New York Knicks

    Friday, December 28 at Indiana Pacers

    Saturday, December 29 at Oklahoma City Thunder

Key December Games

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    Thursday, December 6 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have developed a fierce rivalry over the past half-decade, one that shouldn't let up anytime soon. Both teams have gone through makeovers and will be looking to make a statement that they are here to contend.

    Sunday, December 23 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    In the second matchup of the month against the Clippers, the Suns look to establish a rhythm against a Pacific Division rival. The Suns will look to send the Clippers in to their Christmas Day matchup with the Denver Nuggets with a bad taste in their mouth.

    Saturday, December 29 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    The Timberwolves and Suns engaged in a three-way trade that sent Wesley Johnson to the Suns, and it's the first matchup between the two teams of the season. The Suns can make a statement with a win against a Minnesota team that always gives the team trouble.

    Monday, December 31 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    The Thunder are fresh off a loss in the NBA finals and will look to take out their revenge on each and every team they face. The Suns have had a tough time beating the Thunder in recent years and could use a win going in to the new year.

    December W-L Prediction: 8-7

    Wins: Knicks, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Bobcats, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Timberwolves

    Losses: Grizzlies, Mavericks, Clippers, Magic, Pacers, Thunder, Knicks

Preview and Predictions for December

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of December

    Two former second overall draft picks go head-to-head in a key momentum game going in to the new year. To this point,  Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant have had different career paths, but both are very talented and capable of scoring in bunches. Whoever scores more could lead their team to victory as the calender goes to 2013.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for December

    Phoenix takes care of business on the road against the Knicks, Clippers and Thunder in a true statement month. Goran Dragic and Luis Scola team up to dominate the pick-and-roll game, and the team follows suit. The Suns go 11-4 in the month, approaching 2013 as one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for December

    Phoenix wins games against lesser teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings, but fails to win games against better teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks. A tough month leads to a 5-10 record and more questions than answers.

January Schedule

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    Wednesday, January 2 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

    Friday, January 4 vs. Utah Jazz

    Sunday, January 6 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

    Tuesday, January 8 at Milwaukee Bucks

    Wednesday, January 9 at Boston Celtics

    Friday, January 11 at Brooklyn Nets

    Saturday, January 12 at Chicago Bulls

    Monday, January 14 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Thursday, January 17 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

    Wednesday, January 23 at Sacramento Kings

    Thursday, January 24 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    Saturday, January 26 at San Antonio Spurs

    Sunday, January 27 at Dallas Mavericks

    Wednesday, January 30 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Key January Games

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    Saturday, January 26 at San Antonio Spurs

    The Suns and Spurs have a deep rivalry that goes back many years and includes several dynamic playoff series. These teams, and their fanbases, do not like each other. This is a game the Suns could really use a win in as the first of three straight rivalry games at the end of January.

    Sunday, January 27 at Dallas Mavericks

    Like the Spurs, these teams do not like each other. Anytime the Suns can win over these guys, the game means much more than just a win. This win shouldn't come easy, though, as the second game in as many days against a rival.

    Wednesday, January 30 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    The homecoming of Steve Nash to Phoenix. This is much-watch TV. Need I say more?

    January W-L Prediction: 5-9

    Wins: 76ers, Jazz, Bucks, Kings, Mavericks

    Losses: Grizzlies, Celtics, Nets, Bulls, Thunder, Bucks, Clippers, Spurs, Lakers

Preview and Predictions for January

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of January

    Marcin Gortat goes up against arguably the second-best center in the league in Andrew Bynum and looks to lead the Suns to victory in a crucial game. Bynum's size has been tough for Gortat to manage the past couple matchups between the two, and Phoenix has no shot in the game unless Gortat can get physical with him down low.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for January

    Phoenix battles through a tough stretch to open the month against nine potential playoff teams, winning five of the nine games. A brutal schedule stops the team from getting more wins, as they finish 7-7.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for January

    The tough schedule takes its toll on a tiring team as the Suns win only three games all month. Losses against potential playoff teams continue to pile up, and the team can't wait for February.

February Schedule

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    Friday, February 1 vs. Dallas Mavericks

    Saturday, February 2 at Golden State Warriors

    Tuesday, February 5 at Memphis Grizzlies

    Wednesday, February 6 at New Orleans Hornets

    Friday, February 8 at Oklahoma City Thunder

    Sunday, February 10 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    Tuesday, February 12 at Los Angeles Lakers

    Tuesday, February 19 at Portland Trail Blazers

    Wednesday, February 20 at Golden State Warriors

    Friday, February 22 vs. Boston Celtics

    Sunday, February 24 vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Tuesday, February 26 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Wednesday, February 27 at San Antonio Spurs

Key February Games

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    Tuesday, February 12 at Los Angeles Lakers

    The third of four matchups between the bitter rivals takes place in Los Angeles is the final game before the All-Star break for the Phoenix Suns. It's always important to carry momentum in to the All-sSar break, and nothing would pump the team up more than a win over the Lakers.

    Wednesday, February 20 at Golden State Warriors

    In the second game of the month between the Suns and Warriors, Phoenix takes yet another step in besting the division against the improved Warriors.

    Wednesday, February 27 at San Antonio Spurs

    The final regular season matchup between the Spurs and Suns should be a good one. The Suns will need to muster up great performances from Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley to pull this win out.

    February W-L Prediction: 5-8

    Wins: Mavs, Hornets, Lakers, Celtics, Spurs

    Losses: Warriors (twice), Grizzlies, Thunder (twice), Trail Blazers, Spurs, Timberwolves

Preview and Predictions for February

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of February

    Halfway through the month, Luis Scola faces off against LaMarcus Aldridge in what should be a battle for position on the low blocks. Scola's many offensive moves going against the length of Aldridge will be a fun matchup to see. The winner will be whoever steps on defense and can string a couple stops in a row together.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for February

    The team bonds over the eight road games in February, and comes out a different team ready for the stretch run. The bench produces at an outstanding clip and the team succeeds. Stealing a couple games against better teams, Phoenix goes 8-5 in the month.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for February

    Yet another difficult month for the Suns, as the starting lineup continues to disappoint and their record reflects. Specifically, Michael Beasley struggles against fellow SFs Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes, Paul Pierce and Rudy Gay. Eight road games doom the team en route to a 3-10 month.

March Schedule

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    Friday, March 1 vs. Atlanta Hawks

    Wednesday, March 6 vs. Toronto Raptors

    Friday, March 8 at Sacramento Kings

    Saturday, March 9 vs. Houston Rockets

    Monday, March 11 vs. Denver Nuggets

    Wednesday, March 13 at Houston Rockets

    Friday, March 15 at Atlanta Hawks

    Saturday, March 16 at Washington Wizards

    Monday, March 18 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Wednesday, March 20 vs. Washington Wizards

    Friday, March 22 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

    Sunday, March 24 vs. Brooklyn Nets

    Wednesday, March 27 at Utah Jazz

    Thursday, March 28 vs. Sacramento Kings

    Saturday, March 30 vs. Indiana Pacers

Key March Games

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    Monday, March 18 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers and Suns face off for the last time of the regular season, as both try to gain the upper hand on the other. Goran Dragic gets one last look at his former mentor, Steve Nash, while Michael Beasley attempts to shoot his way past the Lakers.

    Saturday, March 30 vs. Indiana Pacers

    The Suns try to finish off their easiest month of the year against the talented Indiana Pacers. The game comes on the heels of five out of the last six games being at home for the Suns. Bench play is key, as Wesley Johnson and Markieff Morris will need big games for Phoenix to win.

    March W-L Prediction: 10-5

    Wins: Hawks, Raptors, Kings (twice), Rockets (twice), Wizards (twice), Jazz, Timberwolves

    Losses: Hawks, Lakers, Nets, Pacers, Nuggets

Preview and Predictions for March

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of March

    The Suns and Kings play twice in March, which means Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson get a couple of chances to go head-to-head. Morris and Robinson went to the University of Kansas together, and both are physical guys. It will be interesting to see who wins the battle between the rookie Robinson and the sophomore Morris.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for March

    The easiest month, schedule-wise, for the Suns proves to be a blessing in disguise as the teams coasts to wins against equal or lesser talented squads. Phoenix takes care of business with a 11-4 and sets itself up for the exciting final eight games of the regular season.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for March

    After a so far tough regular season, the easy schedule doesn't prove so easy, and the team digs a deeper hole. Game after game of frustrating losses sap away any semblance of hope for the team, and they finish the month with only six wins.

April Schedule

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    Wednesday, April 3 at Los Angeles Clippers

    Friday, April 5 vs. Golden State Warriors

    Sunday, April 7 vs. New Orleans Hornets

    Tuesday, April 9 at Houston Rockets

    Wednesday, April 10 at Dallas Mavericks

    Saturday, April 13 at Minnesota Timberwolves

    Monday, April 15 vs. Houston Rockets

    Wednesday, April 17 at Denver Nuggets

Key April Games

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    Wednesday, April 10 at Dallas Mavericks

    Yet another rivalry game for the Suns. This one means a lot more, though. Phoenix will be fighting for its playoff life and needs every win. Coach Alvin Gentry will need to pump up the guys for what surely will be a tough game; that is, if Dallas hasn't already clinched a playoff spot and plays all their guys.

    Monday, April 15 vs. Houston Rockets

    It's the last home game of the regular season. You have to give the fans one last thing show, especially if the playoffs are not in sight.

    Wednesday, April 17 at Denver Nuggets

    If the playoff picture is close, this game could be a deciding factor in seeding and if the Suns even get in the playoffs. Plus, it's the last game of the regular season, and it's always good to end on a high note.

    April W-L Prediction: 5-3

    Wins: Warriors, Hornets, Rockets, Nuggets, Clippers

    Losses: Mavericks, Rockets, Timberwolves

Preview and Predictions for April

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    Best One-on-One Matchup of April

    Goran Dragic and Chris Paul match up in what is the first of several key games for the Phoenix Suns. Paul and Dragic are very different players, but both effective in their own right. Dragic will have to take good care of the rock against the crafty Paul, or else the Suns will be in for a long night. Dragic will set the pace for Phoenix, and a quick start could be the key to a Phoenix win.

    Suns' Best-Case Scenario for April

    The Mavericks, Clippers and Nuggets all rest their starters for the upcoming postseason, giving the Suns an easy path through the month. Phoenix caps the final month of the regular season by going 8-0 and makes the playoffs.

    Suns' Worst-Case Scenario for April

    The Mavericks, Clippers and Nuggets haven't yet clinched their postseason tickets, so all starters play and Phoenix struggles. A couple losses to the Warriors and Rockets put the Suns at 3-5 for the month, ensuring the team is lottery-bound for the third straight year.

Final Predictions

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    Final Record: 43-39

    On paper, the Phoenix Suns have a deep roster with solid talent and should be able to contend for a lower playoff spot in the Western Conference. It will be extremely tough in the ultra-competitive West, but it can be done.

    The Suns have a tough schedule, and the 2012-13 season could easily go negative or positive based on that schedule. With so many new guys on the team, and most of them being younger, the veterans like Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat will be key to getting this team through the tough schedule.

    All these new pieces will need time to gel, but I see no reason why Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Wesley Johnson and Kendall Marshall will fail to bond over the 82-game season.

    The 2012-13 Phoenix Suns may not be a championship-caliber team, but the team has enough grit to battle it out for a lower playoff spot. They may or may not secure that spot but one thing's for sure, they won't stop fighting.