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Western Conference Playoff Report: April 10th

As the Suns survive, the Grizzlies grab an enormous win against the two-time defending champions.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

If you are a fan of backing into the playoffs then last night was not the night for you.  With the Memphis win over Miami, the Suns are basically going to have to split their next two games (@Spurs, @Mavericks) to avoid a potential elimination game with Memphis on Monday.  This is of course conditioned on the Grizzlies winning their next two games - but since those games are home against Philly and at the Lakers - logic would suggest they're going to take care of business.

So if the Suns lose both of their weekend contests and the Grizzlies earn their expected results, the Grizz/Suns will meet on Monday with the Suns trailing by a game and the tiebreaker already lost.  That would mean the Suns would need to beat Memphis, beat Sacramento, and have Dallas beat Memphis (in Memphis) just to make the playoffs. Basically the Suns can't lose both games this weekend.

There's your morning pessimism.  On to the recap:

Wednesday April 9th Key Western Conference Results:

Phoenix Suns 94 New Orleans Pelicans 88 (Recap) -  I honestly don't think this game could have been uglier.  In the preview thread a few of us wound up in a typically ridiculous exchange regarding what would happen in the event the Suns lost to a Pelicans team playing without Anthony Davis and pretty much every other relevant player on the team other than Tyreke Evans.  In the proposed alternate history hellscape, Alex Skinner brought up coming upon a barely surviving Al McCoy who uttered "Shaa-- Shazaam" and then I added that with his dying breath he'd mutter "Withey....."

As I watched this game come down to the wire and completely ignored the coworkers I foolishly agreed to go to happy hour with (side note -  do not agree to go to a happy hour with coworkers who don't care about basketball during the middle of a playoff race.  I'm an idiot) I couldn't help but think that the prophecy would come true and Bright Side would descend into a Jeff Withey, old Pierre the Pelican, and King Cake Baby-run police state.

Luckily for those of us who didn't want to be slaves to the King Cake Baby regime, Eric Bledsoe came up with a clutch steal, assist, and jumper in a 48 second stretch to help give the Suns a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Crazy Uncle Gerald scored 21 points (4/7 from three) to lead the Suns while the Dragon added 20 and Bledsoe put in 16 (all in the 2nd half).  As you all know, I'm no basketball genius but to make the playoffs the Suns should probably avoid going 4 minutes and 32 seconds without a basket at the start of the 2nd half the rest of the way.

Our proposed overlord Jeff Withey led the Pelicans with 17 points - which I'm sure you won't be surprised to find is his career high.

Memphis Grizzlies 107 Miami Heat 102 (Recap) -   I guess we shouldn't be totally surprised but we can certainly be disappointed.  Miami was playing with Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem, and potentially most surprisingly Chris Andersen and they simply ran out of steam against a motivated Grizzlies team.  The champs led by 7 with 2 and a half minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter but Memphis went on a 36-17 run over the next 13 minutes and took the game.

Without Andersen helping to man the middle, the Grizzlies bigs dominated the Miami front line.  Zach Randolph scored 25 points on 12/15 shooting while Marc Gasol had 20 points of his own.  Mike Conley chipped in 26.  When all three of those guys are going for the Grizz they are a tough team to beat.  LeBron James led Miami with 37 points but the 2nd leading scorer was Rashard Lewis.  If your 2nd leading scorer is Rashard Lewis and it isn't 2009 - you're gonna have a bad time.

Current Western Conference Standings:

1.San Antonio
60 18 .769 - 8-2 LOST 1
2. Oklahoma City
57 21 .731 3
7-3 WON 2
3. LA Clippers
55 24 .696 5.5 7-3 LOST 1
4. Houston 52 26 .667 8 6-4 LOST 1
5. Portland
51 28 .646 9.5 6-4 WON 2
6. Golden State
48 29 .623 11.5 7-3 WON 2
7. Dallas
48 31 .608 12.5 7-3 WON 4
47 31 .603 13
8-2 WON 3
- Memphis
46 32 .590 14 6-4 WON 1

Thursday April 10th Western Conference Games of Significance:

Spurs @ Mavericks -  Tony Parker isn't playing and Manu Ginobili left the Spurs last game with a left calf contusion.  With the Spurs having all but clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs and coming off a spanking at the hands of the T'Wolves you begin to wonder what their level of motivation will be tonight.  Dallas will want this game more but I've learned to never underestimate Pop magic.

Nuggets @ Warriors - If the Warriors win this game I'll ignore them for the rest of the season.  If they lose then they might put themselves a LITTLE more in play.  David Lee remains out for Full Squad while the Nuggets are coming off a pair of scrappy battles against the Rockets - one of which they won.

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