Jan 17, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek talks with his team during a timeout against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at US Airways Center. The Mavericks won 110-107. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns: It All Comes Down To This


Phoenix Suns

Apr 11, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) drives to the basket as San Antonio Spurs forward Jeff Ayres (11) defends during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 112-104. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After leading by as many as 21 points in the first quarter, the Phoenix Suns dropped a tough road game against the San Antonio Spurs last night. Was it a rough loss to swallow? You bet. Was it demoralizing to let a 13-point halftime lead evaporate into a five-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter? Absolutely. But as unfair as it seems for one loss to drop this playoff caliber team from seventh to ninth, we all knew the Suns’ playoff push would come down to head-to-head games against the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies. Guess what? After last night’s loss, that’s still the case.

If you asked Phoenix Suns Twitter about the game, you’d think Gregg Popovich had dragged Eric Bledsoe to half court, told him the Lannisters send their regards and stabbed him while The Coyote and a group of Spurs henchmen jumped out from behind Phoenix’s bench and started slaughtering everyone to the tune of “The Rains of Castamere.” Last night’s loss left little margin for error from here on out, but the Suns aren’t dead just yet.

Even if the Suns had won last night, they would have only been half a game ahead of the Mavs and one game ahead of the Grizzlies for the seventh seed. A loss to the Mavs would have dropped Phoenix to ninth. A win against San Antonio and Dallas would have eliminated the Mavs and guaranteed the Suns a playoff spot, sure. But Phoenix doesn’t want a first round matchup with the Spurs since they match up so much better with the Oklahoma City Thunder, so getting the seventh spot is imperative if the Suns are serious about trying to pull off a first round upset. The common theme to getting there? Beating both Dallas and Memphis.

Getting the win last night would have given Phoenix a little more room for error, but the Suns are still in the driver’s seat. The only problem is they’re racing against two other teams that are also in their own driver’s seats and will be looking to run Phoenix off the road in the next three days. Here’s a basic look at how the playoff scenario would play out for the Suns based on how all three teams finish the season:

  • If the Suns go 3-0, they’re in. Duh.
  • If the Suns beat Dallas and Memphis, they’re in even if they lose to the Sacramento Kings. The Suns would grab the seventh seed in every scenario there, unless Phoenix loses to Sacramento and the Grizzlies beat the Mavs and Los Angeles Lakers.
  • If the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis, they’re in unless the Grizzlies beat the Lakers while also losing to the Mavericks.
  • If the Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas, Phoenix can do no better than the eighth seed and would be eliminated if the Grizzlies beat the Mavs and Lakers
  • If the Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento, Phoenix is out unless the Grizzlies also beat Dallas.
  • If the Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento, Phoenix is out unless the Grizzlies go 0-3 in their last three games. Not likely since the Grizz play the Lakers.
  • If the Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis, Phoenix is out. Obviously, they’re also out if they go 0-for-3 in their final three games.
Phoenix Suns

Dec 21, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green (14) puts up a basket against the Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion (0) in the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns won 123-108. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

So looking at this, what’s the common theme? Phoenix needs a win in Dallas tonight. If the Suns lose tonight, they only way Phoenix can get in is if the Grizzlies lose at least two of their last three games. It’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Suns against a team that is also playing a must win game. This is a Mavs team that has split the season series 1-1 with the Suns, has home court advantage and hasn’t played since Thursday. They’ll be well rested and looking to rebound from a loss to the Spurs. If Goran Dragic can’t play again, or the Suns don’t come out with energy (and actually maintain it for the full 48 minutes this time), their playoff odds go way down.

To summarize, the Suns’ playoff dream is dead if they don’t beat either the Mavs or Grizzlies. Beating both would guarantee them a playoff spot, even with a loss in the season’s final game. Snatching up the No. 7 spot would be ideal, but Suns fans are fully invested in the playoff dream now. Last night’s loss was disappointing, but don’t make the mistake of judging the Phoenix Suns’ 2013-14 season by “playoffs or bust.” It’s okay to want the postseason and Suns fans should be ready to cheer from wherever they’re watching tonight. But let’s appreciate this young and exciting team’s surprising season for what it was no matter what the outcome of the next few games are.

Yes. I did just quote from my own Twitter feed. Anyway, in case you were curious, here is every single possible outcome of the next three games and how each scenario would affect the Suns and their playoff hopes:

#1 – Suns beat Dallas, Memphis and Sacramento:

It doesn’t matter what the other teams do if the Suns win out, because they will be in as the seventh seed.

#2 – Suns beat Dallas and Memphis but lose to Sacramento:

If the Suns beat Dallas and Memphis but lose to Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix, LA and Dallas: Suns are in as 7th seed, Mavs 8th

If the Suns beat Dallas and Memphis but lose to Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and Dallas but beat LA: Suns are in as 7th seed, Mavs 8th seed (Suns own tiebreaker over Mavs there)

If the Suns beat Dallas and Memphis but lose to Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and LA but beat Dallas: Suns are in as 7th seed, Mavs 8th seed (Mavs own tiebreaker over Grizzlies)

If the Suns beat Dallas and Memphis but lose to Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix but beat Dallas and LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Grizzlies 7th seed (Grizzlies own tiebreaker over Suns)

#2 – Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis:

If the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix, Dallas and LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Grizzlies 7th seed

If the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and Dallas but lose to LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Grizzlies 7th seed

If the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and LA but lose to Dallas: Suns are out by tiebreaker (28.6 winning percentage trails Mavs’ 71.4 percentage and Grizzlies’ 50.0 winning percentage)

If the Suns beat Dallas and Sacramento but lose to Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix but lose to Dallas and LA: Suns are in as 7th seed, Mavs 8th seed (Suns own tiebreaker over the Mavs in that scenario)

#3 – Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas:

If the Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix but beat Dallas and LA: Suns are out via three-way tiebreaker

If the Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and Dallas but beat LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Mavs 7th seed

If the Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and LA but beat Dallas: Suns are in as 8th seed, Mavs 7th seed

If the Suns beat Memphis and Sacramento but lose to Dallas/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix, LA and Dallas: Suns are in as 8th seed, Mavs 7th seed

#4 – Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento:

If the Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix, Dallas and LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Grizzlies 7th seed (Suns own tiebreaker over Mavs in that scenario)

If the Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and Dallas but lose to LA: Suns are in as 8th seed, Grizzlies 7th seed (Suns own tiebreaker over Mavs in that scenario)

If the Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and LA but lose to Dallas: Suns are out

If the Suns beat Dallas but lose to Memphis and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix but lose to Dallas and LA: Suns are out (Grizzlies own tiebreaker over Suns in that scenario)

#5 – Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento:

If the Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix but beat Dallas and LA: Suns are out

If the Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and Dallas but beat LA: Suns are out (Grizzlies own tiebreaker over Suns in that scenario)

If the Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix and LA but beat Dallas: Suns are out (Grizzlies own tiebreaker over Suns in that scenario)

If the Suns beat Memphis but lose to Dallas and Sacramento/If the Grizzlies lose to Phoenix, LA and Dallas: Suns are in as 8th seed, Mavs 7th seed

#6 – Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis:

If the Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix, Dallas and LA: Suns are out

If the Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and Dallas but lose to LA: Suns are out

If the Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix and LA but lose to Dallas: Suns are out

If the Suns beat Sacramento but lose to Dallas and Memphis/If the Grizzlies beat Phoenix but lose to Dallas and LA: Suns are out (Grizzlies own tiebreaker over Suns in that scenario)

#7 Suns lose to Dallas, Memphis and Sacramento:

If the Suns lose every game from here on out, it’s mathematically impossible for them to make the playoffs.



Tags: Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Playoff Picture Phoenix Suns Playoff Scenarios Western Conference Playoff Picture