Well, after a fierce night of intense basketball with huge implications in the Western Conference playoffs race, the Suns miraculously are still clinging to the No. 8 seed.
What's that you say? None of the teams the Suns are fighting for a spot with played last night? Oh. So what did happen last night?
Well, there were some games that mattered.
Make the jump for updated standings, my attempt to connect Tuesday night's games to the Suns and a primer for what to watch for tonight.
Western Conference Standings as of Tuesday, April 17 via NBA.com:
There were not any games that directly affected the Suns, but three playoff teams in the Western Conference did take the floor last night.
Tonight was rough for the Lakers, and for us, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't expected. The Spurs came out ready to play and vindicate the previous contest, and enough shitty things happened to the purple and gold as to ensure the result. This says no more about the state of these two teams heading into the postseason than the previous contest did.
Unfortunately, one of these teams had to win. Fortunately, that also meant one of them had to lose, and even more fortunately, it was the Lakers that did so.
The win put San Antonio half a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for first place in the Western Conference. If the Suns can manage to upset the Thunder tonight, that would give the Spurs even more of a cushion, thereby increasing the chances Gregg Popovich rests his starters in the final game of the season against the Suns. Laker misery and help for the Suns? Not a bad result.
It was a nondescript game, yes, but it's just the kind that can sometimes be tough to properly focus in on. The Memphis Grizzlies topped the Minnesota Timberwolves, now shells of their early season selves, in Minneapolis, getting what they needed out of the night -- a win however it came -- with a little extra on the side in the quick return of All-Star Marc Gasol.
Marc Gasol is back for the Grizzlies a day after being diagnosed with a bone bruise and listed as day-to-day just yesterday in the Grizzlies' loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Gasol is a key part of the team, and Memphis fans are surely breathing big sighs of relief after the big man did not miss any time with his injury.
Games to watch Wednesday, April 18:
- OKC@PHX -- This is obviously the most important game of the day. While a loss wouldn't kill the Suns' hopes, a win sure would be nice.
- HOU@DAL -- The Suns are tied with the Rockets and 1.5 games behind the Mavericks. While a Dallas victory would be preferable in this situation, a Houston win wouldn't be the end of the world as Dallas is in danger of falling even farther than the 7th spot they are currently sitting in.
LAC@DEN -- With their sweep of the Rockets, the Nuggets separated themselves from the scrum at the bottom of the playoff standings, although they are just two games ahead of the Suns and are not uncatchable. Another reason to root for the Clippers is they are just half a game behind the Lakers in the race for the Pacific Division crown.
- SAS@SAC -- This should be an easy win for San Antonio. That's good for the Suns.
- UTA@POR -- Utah is just half a game behind Phoenix and Houston, so it would be much appreciated 'round these parts if the Blazers were to actually show up for this one.
- LAL@GSW -- Well, it looks like the Clippers won't be catching the Lakers on this night. Oh well.
It is going to be a busy night in the NBA, and an important one for the Western Conference playoff race.