Western Conference Playoff Report: April 7th

Christian Petersen

With just 5 games remaining, the Suns take a 1 game lead on Memphis for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.

I know your Sunday wasn't completely fulfilled since you didn't get to read several hundred words of rambling from me so I apologize.

We're in the home stretch folks so I won't waste any time talking about how Game of Thrones went all Darren from Bewitched on us last night - lets get right into the action.

Sunday April 7th Key Western Conference Results:

Phoenix Suns 122 Oklahoma City Thunder 115 (Recap) - After blowing a 16 point third quarter lead in their last visit to Phoenix in March, you damn well know the Thunder wanted this one.  Well P.J. Tucker wouldn't let them have it.  The Suns blew a 14 point 3rd quarter lead - which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody - but they held on during a wildly competitive 4th quarter to win the game and get a huge win.  Dave covered this much more eloquently in the recap which is linked above.

Goran Dragic led the Suns with 26 points (19 of which were in the 2nd quarter) while Gerald Green added 24 on his typical array of crazy-ass shots.  PJ Tucker played arguably his best game of the season, scoring 22 points (including 4/5 from three point range) and playing 40 minutes of having to guard Kevin Durant.  The aforementioned future MVP scored 38 points in his 43 minutes and something something something points streak. Russell Westbrook scored 33 points for OKC while continuing to play with all the charm and grace of a street urchin.

Dallas Mavericks 93 Sacramento Kings 91 (Recap) -  Dirk Nowtizki played his first crappy game in about 2 weeks but the Mavs still won.  The enormous German man shot just 5 of 17 for Dallas but Monta Ellis (23 points) and my mortal enemy (17 points and an eternally burning flame) picked up the slack.  The Mavericks opened the door for the Kings late due to some missed free throws and Sacramento had the ball down just two with 7 seconds remaining.  Rookie guard Ray McCallum appeared to have an open look from three but perhaps deterred by his 0/4 shooting from that range on the evening (and 23.5% from long distance in his last 5) he passed the ball to an in-transition DeMarcus Cousins who could throw up only a feeble game tying attempt.

Kings gonna king.

San Antonio Spurs 112 Memphis Grizzlies 92 (Recap) -  Resistance is futile.  Tony Parker left the game with back spasms after just 9 minutes of play and the Spurs were still able to crush the Grizzlies.  Kawhi Leonard led the way for San Antonio with 26 points on just 13 shots - he pathetically missed one of his shot attempts (what a loser).  Manu Ginobili added 26 of his own on even fewer shots (11) as the Spurs took care of some helpful Suns business.  The Memphis frontline duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for just 14 points and 12 rebounds.  The win is the 8th straight for San Antonio over the Grizz.

Golden State Warriors 130 Utah Jazz 102 (Recap) -  Steph Curry and Klay Thompson absolutely punished the Jazz.  Considering their remaining schedule I'm pulling Golden State off this post like I did Portland.

Current Western Conference Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB L10 STREAK
1.San Antonio
60 17 .779 - 9-1 LOST 1
2. Oklahoma City
55 21 .724 4.5
7-3 LOST 2
3. LA Clippers
55 23 .705 5.5 7-3 WON 1
4. Houston 51 25 .671 8.5 7-3 WON 2
5. Portland
50 28 .641 10.5 6-4 WON 1
6. Golden State
48 29 .623 12 7-3 WON 2
7. Dallas
47 31 .603 13.5 6-4 WON 3
8. SUNS
46 31 .597 14
8-2 WON 2
- Memphis
45 32 .584 15 5-5 LOST 1

Remaining Schedules:

With something called a NCAA Championship game being played tonight there are no NBA games on the schedule (cute of the NBA to let them have all the attention).  So with that I wanted to present to you the remaining schedules for the teams competing for the last two spots in the West.  Yes I know Full Squad is just two games up on the Suns but their remaining schedule has just 1 playoff team on it so until they drop a game they shouldn't, I'm done thinking about them.

Dallas Mavericks (47-31)

Tuesday April 8th -  @ Utah Jazz

Thursday April 10th - v. San Antonio Spurs

Saturday April 12th -  v. Phoenix Suns

Wednesday April 16th -  @ Memphis Grizzlies

Quick Analysis -  Utah should be a layup and the Spurs will depend entirely on who Gregg Popovich decides to play.  The game isn't a back to back for the Spurs which is a plus - and it precedes their game the next night with the Suns (which is another plus).  As for those last two games -  the only thing I know is that they are both going to be wars.

Dallas will win the tiebreaker over Memphis (3-0 with 1 game to play) and has that rubber match with Phoenix coming (currently 1-1).

Phoenix Suns (46-31)

Wednesday April 9th -  @ New Orleans Pelicans

Friday April 11th -  @ San Antonio Spurs

Saturday April 12 - @ Dallas Mavericks

Monday April 14th -  v. Memphis Grizzlies

Wednesday April 16th -  @ Sacramento Kings

Quick Analysis - New Orleans is far from a pushover so at this point the Suns better know they can't just show up and win.  The Texas Two-Step of Spurs/Mavs does not sound particularly delightful but as stated above it helps that San Antonio will be catching the Suns on the 2nd end of a back to back - getting a split out of that would be enormous.  I'm sure you know the Memphis game will be mildly large and fortunately for the Suns, the Grizz will be coming off having the chase the Lakers around the previous night.  I'd love for the Suns to have already clinched by the time they head to Sacramento but I figure it's unlikely.

I said this in the comments last night but I'd consider the Suns most likely path to the playoffs being finishing the season 3-2 with one of the wins over Memphis, while the Grizz lose Wednesday night in Miami (or to Dallas on the last day of the season).  Going 5-0 would probably work out OK too.  Basically if Memphis finishes the last 5 games better than the Suns, the Suns will probably be out in the cold.

The Suns lose a tiebreaker to Memphis (0-3 with one game to play) and have the rubber match with a Dallas tiebreaker coming (currently 1-1).

Memphis Grizzlies (45-32)

Wednesday April 9th - v. Miami Heat

Friday April 11th - v.  Philadelphia 76ers

Sunday April 13th - @ Los Angeles Lakers

Monday April 14th - @ Phoenix Suns

Wednesday April 16th - v. Dallas Mavericks

Quick Analysis - I can't see any scenario in which the Grizzlies drop a game to the moribund 76ers or the Lakers (because who would do that!).  That Miami game on Wednesday is going to be huge - so if you're not already Team LeBron, get there fast.  As with the Mavs above, those last two are going to be a war.

Memphis holds the tiebreaker over the Suns (3-0 with one game to play) but loses a tiebreaker to the Mavs (0-3 with one game to play).

Three Way Tiebreakers:

As a reminder, three way tiebreakers are sorted by who has the best record amongst the games played between the teams.  As of right now here is how it shakes out:

  • Dallas 4-1
  • Memphis 3-3
  • Phoenix 1-4

You may have discovered by this point there are still 3 fairly large games that could change that a bit but if I'm the Suns I go ahead and try to avoid that three-way tie scenario (you know....pro tip).

Clear as mud?  You're welcome.

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