The Phoenix Suns (49-21) will be the first or second seed in the Western Conference following the Los Angeles Clippers’ loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
It also means the Suns have won the Pacific Division for the first time since 2007. This is the seventh time the franchise has done so, tying the Golden State Warriors for the second-most division title. The Los Angeles Lakers are first with 24.
So, are you looking at the standings and the remaining two days of the regular season trying to figure out what’s yet to be determined? Of course you are! Let’s review:
Clippers pulling for the 4th
The Clippers are now seated in fourth place after resting Kawhi Leonard and Paul George while bringing out Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley to let some injuries heal. The upside for them to lose is a more favorable game as a fourth seed, doing their best to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers (40-30), who are now set to finish the regular season in either sixth or seventh. after the Dallas Mavericks’ (42-29) wins on Friday.
The Clippers are now fourth with a Denver Nuggets win on Friday. This has the two teams tied at 47-24 and the Nuggets hold the tiebreaker. That means the Clippers will have to lose again to make sure they stay fourth, and on Sunday they face the putrid Oklahoma City Thunder (21-50), who also has a reason to lose to ping-pong balls.
Lakers 6th or 7th
Getting back to the Lakers, they’re competing with the Portland Trail Blazers (41-30) for sixth or seventh, and to come full circle, the Blazers face the Nuggets on Sunday.
If Portland wins against Denver, the Lakers are seventh no matter what. If Portland loses, the Lakers can win their two games this weekend to get the sixth seed and avoid the play-in. The question, of course, is whether the Lakers even feel threatened by the play-in and prefer to go that route for the clashes they would draw as seventh seed.
And for another to make your head spin even more, if the Blazers win and the Mavericks lose to the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-48) on Sunday, it would be Portland as fifth seed and Dallas sixth.
The odds of the Suns at No. 1
The Utah Jazz (51-20) also won Friday to keep their distance in first place. As for the Suns, that means another loss for the Suns in their two games left or the Jazz winning their season finale Sunday in Utah first and Phoenix second. The Jazz play Sunday against the Sacramento Kings (31-40), who were eliminated from the playoffs. For the Suns, it is a back to back in San Antonio against the Spurs (33-37), who took 10th in the West.
Warriors-Grizzlies final for the 8th
Finally, the last game of the regular season for the Golden State Warriors (38-33) and Memphis Grizzlies (38-33) is against each other Sunday for the eighth seed. The loser will be the ninth seed and face the most difficult route through the play-in.