When the Phoenix Suns' schedule is released late Tuesday, it will show that the most popular teams in the Eastern Conference, from the Miami Heat to the Boston Celtics to the Amar'e Stoudemire-led New York Knicks to the Chicago Bulls, will all skip a trip to the Valley of the Sun this season, reports Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
The NBA lockout forced the league to shorten the season from 82 games to 66. In a normal season, every team visits every other team at least once, and usually twice if the teams share a conference. But the NBA elected to remove some interconference games from the schedule to focus on regional and intraconference rivalries. That means that some cities will be locked out of the traditionally major draws.
The Suns will have two visits each from the L.A. Lakers and Clippers, both of which are huge road draws (the latter thanks to Blake Griffin). Coro reports that the Suns have two back-to-back-to-backs scheduled, one in mid-February and the other in mid-March. Phoenix opens the season at home on December against the New Orleans Hornets.