NBA standings: How the Suns can make the playoffs

Prepare to root for Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash one more time. And for likely the first time, Phoenix Suns fans might find themselves rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers. With Phoenix’s 101-98 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, the Suns find themselves in a precarious position.

They’re relying on haterade connoisseur Swaggy P.

The Mavericks (49-32) already sit at 49 wins with a game left. They have locked themselves into a playoff spot with tiebreakers over both the Suns and Grizzlies.

Phoenix (47-33) has no tiebreakers in its favor against either Memphis or Dallas at this point, not even if the three squads finish 49-33. The three-way tiebreaker is a combination of wins and losses against the two other teams, and at present, the Suns sit at 1-5 and at best could finish 2-5 with a win against Memphis. The Grizzlies sit at 3-3. And Dallas is 5-1 against Phoenix and Memphis.

There are two scenarios remaining.

Memphis, with a record of 47-32, must lose its final three games of the year.

That, or the Suns must win out while the Grizzlies lose two of three — so obviously one of those losses would need to come Monday against Phoenix. If the Suns beat the Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings to finish the year, they would close out the regular season with 49 total wins. Then, the possibility of Jeff Hornacek’s squad making the playoffs would require Memphis to fall to the Los Angeles Lakers a day prior to the matchup in Phoenix or after that, to the Mavericks in their final game of the year Wednesday.

The worse bit of news comes in the second scenario.

If the Grizzlies limp into their final game of the year against the Mavs having lost to the Suns after beating the Lakers, Dallas would have locked up the seventh seed already and have little reason to go full-bore against the Grizzlies — remember that the Mavs hold the tiebreaker over Memphis.

Dallas could also be shorthanded with Dirk Nowitzki looking battered toward the end of the game on Saturday.

The odds are against the Suns, but now it’s quite simple. They must win against Memphis on Monday and hope to get some help.

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