Just how important is a No. 1 seed in the Western Conference?! In the past, the team with the best record has reached the finals 14 times and won 12 championships (since expanding to 16 teams in 1984). Teams with the second best record have won six titles, including three of the last six.

Amaré Stoudemire is the Suns’ X-factor the rest of the season.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)

The way the Dallas Mavericks are rolling right now, it’s going to be a challenge for the Suns to overhaul them for the No. 1 seed. The general consensus is that the Suns would have to go on another double-digit winning streak to catch the Mavs.

The Suns, with a 3-4 record since their 17 game win streak, can find some solace in that Dallas has a very difficult closing schedule. My broadcasting partner, Dan Majerle, doesn’t think the No. 1 seed and the opportunity to host a game seven at home is all that important.

“I’ve been in both situations, winning a seventh game at home and losing it,” Thunder Dan told me. “I just think the best team wins, regardless. However, I want the Suns to get a 7th game at home, so I’ll have a great crowd at Majerle’s (Grill).”

Mike D’Antoni puts it this way: “It’s not all that important, you have to keep it in perspective. We are not going to die if we don’t have the No. 1 seed. However, we obviously will try to do it.”

In years past a No. 1 seed allowed you to avoid have to play both Dallas and San Antonio. But the question surfaces, who would you want to avoid this season? The Suns are 1-6 versus the best of the West (0-3 vs.. Utah, 0-2 vs. Dallas and 1-1 vs. San Antonio). Mike continued on to say, “Despite our current record against those three, we feel we match up well with all of them. All we do is play, if we are rolling; we are as good as anybody.”

The X-factor is Amaré Stoudemire. The Suns are counting on his addition to get them past the Western Conference Finals. Amaré has matured as a person and as a teammate.

“I am really proud of Amaré; he has become such a good teammate,” says Steve Nash.

Amaré gives the Suns a dimension, a powerful dimension they so sorely lacked. He has become a monster inside!

The season is such a marathon. The Suns have had a remarkable season thus far, putting together 17- and 15-game winning streaks. Yet, there is still a lot of basketball left to be played!! The health of the team is being tested.

Meanwhile, they are committed to just trying to get better and improve in time for the playoffs. It’s a team that hopefully is building something special!!!