NBA Standings: A look at the Suns' playoff chase


PHOENIX — It’s pretty simple for the Phoenix Suns.

Win, and go to the playoffs.

Somehow, that’s made Jeff Hornacek’s team find itself playing the best basketball of the year.

During Phoenix’s 122-115 win against Oklahoma City on Sunday, Goran Dragic got his during a 19-point second quarter. Eric Bledsoe added 30 points total and forced a key turnover on Kevin Durant to help P.J. Tucker’s career scoring night end with a typical Tucker hustle play. Markieff Morris hit a key shot late that helped put the Suns over the top, and finally, Gerald Green launched shots aggressively but in the flow of the offense. Phoenix didn’t get flustered once the Thunder cut away at a 14-point deficit and took a fourth-quarter lead.

The Suns continued to attack with ease. It was unforced.

“I don’t think there were any lulls,” Hornacek said. “Ten-point leads, 12-point leads, that’s nothing (for the Thunder to overcome). We weathered that storm in the third quarter when they made the comeback and made the key plays.”

Phoenix controls its own destiny and seems to have realized it just in time.

Here’s how the Suns get into the playoffs, assuming they don’t sweep the five remaining games.

Where they stand as of Wednesday morning

The eighth-place Suns are a game back of the seventh-place Dallas Mavericks and a game ahead of the ninth-place Memphis Grizzlies. Phoenix has five games remaining, including tonight’s battle against the New Orleans Pelicans, while Dallas has three games left and Memphis has five.

Dallas’ three games left not only includes outings against the Suns and Grizzlies, but a showdown against San Antonio. Memphis, meanwhile, plays against Miami and then has two games against Philly and the Lakers before playing Phoenix and Dallas to close out the year.

Who has the tiebreakers?

Dallas has a 3-0 tiebreaker over Memphis, and the Grizzlies own a 3-0 tiebreaker over the Suns. Having the better record is the best bet to avoid such situations, but the Suns can still get a tiebreaker over Dallas. That’s why the April 12 game against the Mavs is the most important game left with the series tied 1-1.

The other reason for Phoenix to win that one is that it could help them with overall records against the two other teams. If there is a three-way tie in record between Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix, the way to sift the odd team out is by overall record against both opponents. The Suns are in bad shape there with a 1-4 record against the Mavs and Grizzlies, but Dallas and Memphis also play each other in the final game of the year.

If the Suns beat Dallas on April 12, and then Memphis on April 14 before the Grizzlies lose to the Mavs on April 16, then the Suns would have a 3-4 record against both teams and leapfrog Memphis, who would at that point be 3-5 against the Mavs and Suns.

The gist

View the Suns’ two games against the Pelicans and Kings as blessings or curses. It’s two more opportunities to nab easy wins but also two scary games that could put Phoenix in a bind.

  • Daniel

    I honestly have no idea what will happen. It depends on which Suns team shows up to these next handful of games. They can be very Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

    To me, these ARE the playoffs. With the season at stake. . I actually think the Memphis game will be the toughest. They just don’t seem to do well against teams that have a solid inside game.

    Here’s hoping we get to see the post-season :]

  • CarlyJoni

    Suns just need to focus on each opponent, each game and bring energy to these playoff games (and yes, they are the overture to the post season). While the team does their job, we on the other hand can look at other intangibles. Will Miami bounce back with anger in Memphis after yesterday’s loss at the rim? Who will Popovitch play against Dallas and Phoenix as he coolly decides which team he would like to play in Round 1? These next final games are full of land mines for the Suns, Mavs, and Grizzlies.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Sunsn7

    Suns opened as 4 1/2 pt favorites but that has been bet up all the way to a 6 1/2 (7 at some places) favs.
    That is a lot of $$$ on the Suns.
    That scares me.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever

    Would that football player from Northwestern be Darnell Autry ?

  • Foreveris2long

    Nope Hawki. He quit football about 2 or 3 years ago.

  • DZ

    I hate to nitpick, Kevin, but Memphis obviously has 5 games left instead of four… Miami, Philly, LAL, Phoenix and Dallas.

    But if you aren’t counting the game against Philly as a real game then I suppose you were right when you said they only had 4 games left. ;)

    I’m certain that the Suns can win all 5 of these games but I’m just not certain that they will win on any given night. All I ask is that they all go out there and play their asses of in these last five games. If they do that, I’ll be happy no matter how the regular season ends.

  • Johnny

    Bledsoe did not have 30 points against the Thunder. I think you’re thinking of the Portland game.

  • Rengaw

    The Mavs, the Grizz, and the Suns…all evenly matched teams and playing good right now. Considering that at the beginning of the season, the Suns were considered a “tanker” team, what a feather in the Sun’s cap it would be to make the playoffs….and a western division playoff team, no less.

  • sunsn7

    Hawki, the Suns haven’t listened to the oddsmakers all season so hopefully they aren’t paying attention to the line now.

    It’s like what Hornacek said, we’d like to think they learned their lesson with that LA letdown.

    No letdown tonight.

    *knocks on wood*

  • sunsn7

    Don’t like what im seeing out of Bledsoe tonight. Also during timeout with 2.3 seconds left in the half he looked disengaged, walking out of the huddle well before Hornacek finished drawing up the play..perhaps because the play wasn’t designed for him. Overall just very lethargic and uninspired tonight

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever

    Gotta be Jason Wright….went to Hi-School at Diamond Bar.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Sunsn7…Great Call…..if ya took the Suns early, you covered the spread….if you bet on them late…you didn’t.
    Bring on the Spurs !!!

  • sunsn7

    Good thing they won this ugly game. Memphis pulling away from Miami.

    On to Texas :|

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    stupid miami!!

  • foreveris2long

    You are absolutely correct Hawki. He finished his career with the Cardinals and had an option after football of going to medical school or a top business school for his masters. I have known him since he played Pop Warner football. I play golf with his dad.

    IMO no one in the East looks like a champion in these closing weeks. All of the real talent is in the West. With Wade’s body being a mess, the Heat look very beatable.

    Ah the Suns.They struggled a ton tonight as though they did not want to be there. Best thing that can be said is this one is behind the Suns. Getting up for an opponent should not be a problem the rest of the way.

  • Oz

    Suns 11-3 since Bledsoe returned. Remarkable transition to re-introduce him into the lineup. The other teams Do Not Want to play them in the play-offs. They will have nothing to lose and can play loose.

  • StevieMac

    I’m just glad we are talking playoffs and not draft picks this late in the season. With the Suns in the playoffs I believe anything can happen.