The Phoenix Suns don't have any more must-wins, and have taken that awful news in the worst possible way - by failing to show up to most games these last two weeks.
The only three real competitive contests the short-handed Suns have posted in the past two weeks were on national TV - a one-point loss to the Warriors, a three-point loss to the Mavericks - or at home, a two-point win over the surging Jazz.
Tonight's game against the Clippers is both at home AND on national TV. But unfortunately, the Suns are the walking wounded while the Clippers are still fighting for playoff position. The Suns are missing their top two centers (Alex Len and Brandan Wright) and their top shooting guard (Brandon Knight), while the Clippers are finally healthy and clicking on all cylinders.
But hey, it's TNT, so maybe Eric Bledsoe and the Morris Brothers won't just mail it in.
- What: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers
- Where: US Airways Center
- When: 7:30pm (the late TNT game)
- TV: TNT (National), FoxSports Arizona
- Radio: ArizonaSports 98.7 FM
After beating Denver last night, the Clippers have guaranteed themselves home court advantage in the playoffs. They are tied with San Antonio and Houston with 55-26 records with one game to go, but tiebreakers won't allow them to lose the home court no matter what.
The only remaining question is the opponent. They have split the season series against the Grizzlies, Rockets and Spurs one of whom will finish 6th, and have won 3 of 4 against the Mavericks who are locked into the 7th seed.
You'd think the Clippers would try to win the Suns game in order to give themselves the best chance at the #2 seed to face the Mavericks, as will all the other teams still fighting for position.
Check out more on the Clippers at our SB Nation brother site Clips Nation
Remember when we said the Suns had a "tough" closing schedule? That was an understatement.
Nine games against opponents about to start the playoffs this weekend. Eight losses so far, with tonight to come.
Your home team topped out late in the season at a 38-33 record on the back of an inspired "big" lineup that won 5 of 6 games, including wins over the Pelicans, Rockets and Mavericks. They were winning ugly, grabbing more rebounds than their opponents and fighting for each possession despite a flagging offense. "There's always enough time," Eric Bledsoe said, of making the playoffs despite being 3 games back of the Thunder no matter what they did.
Then the Sacramento game happened. A home game, against a mightily struggling opponent, a "must win". And the Suns as a team just dogged it. Bledsoe had the flu, but no one else stepped up to carry the load. Then the schedule, and Alex Len's broken nose, killed the Suns off entirely.
Out on a limb
I could go out on a limb and predict that the Suns will come out all game with a chip on their shoulders, wanting to end the season on a high note against a team that really gets under their (and their fans') skin in the final home game of the season.
A win tonight could at least leave a bit of a smile on everyone's faces without changing any summer plans. The Suns are locked into the 13th pick (unless they win the lottery) since they have won the season series over the Jazz.
A win tonight would allow those pesky post game and season-ending media interviews to go a bit smoother, allow the players to show their preferred over-the-top bravado that often disconnects their answers from reality.
A win tonight would force websites and sports apps all over the world to show the Suns' last game of the 2014-15 season as a win, despite having a losing record.
A win tonight would give the fans one more reason to cheer, to build hope for the future, and to shake a fist in triumph over the hated Clippers who no one likes.
A win tonight, though, would require maximum effort for 48 minutes from every player on the roster, especially Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris.
In other words, nogganahappen.
Today and tomorrow are your last chances to play Daily Fantasy Basketball with the chance to win money! Sign up for FanDuel here! Bet on Suns players (if you're stubborn) or bet on Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis or any other star as they fight for playoff position these last two days.
The Clippers need this game. The Suns need to end the season. However, it's on TNT so the Suns will likely try to win, until it becomes too hard a chore and they crumble in the 4th.
Clippers by 15