Mavs, Suns put playoffs in own hands

By Jeff Caplan,

VIDEO: Kevin Durant gets a record, but the Suns get the win

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Memphis Grizzlies, the team supposedly no high seeds want to see in the first round, is on the outside looking in. The Oklahoma City Thunder, a favorite to win the West, is 0-4 in the last month against the current No. 7 and No. 8 seeds they very well could face.

Following a busy Sunday in which the San Antonio Spurs showed zero fear for the slumping Grizzlies, the Phoenix Suns outlasted the Thunder again and the Dallas Mavericks sweated out a two-point win at Sacramento, the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race continues to be as unpredictable as it is tight.

The Mavs and Suns have put their playoff fates in their own hands. Beyond that, any sorting out with 10 days left in the regular season remains premature because No. 7 Dallas (47-31), one-half game up on No. 8 Phoenix (46-31), which is one game ahead of No. 9 Memphis (45-32), all play each other in the season’s final five days (see remaining schedules below).

Anything remains possible. Everything’s on the table.

The miracle Suns, predicted at the start of the season to be a franchise banking on a high lottery position, have bounced back strong after arguably the season’s most devastating loss at the Los Angeles Lakers a week ago, followed by a heartbreak home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

In the last three nights, Phoenix has won at Portland and beat OKC, 122-115. The Suns also outran the Thunder on March 6, 128-122. Meanwhile, it makes OKC 0-4 over the last month against potential first-round foes Phoenix and Dallas. Of the Suns’ five remaining games, four are on the road.

Dallas has rebounded from a disappointing 4-4 homestand and looks to finish its road trip 4-0. The Mavs play a third consecutive West bottom-feeder Tuesday when it visits the Jazz. After holding on for dear life against the Clippers on Thursday, they followed up with wins at the Lakers and Sunday’s 93-91 nail-biter against the Kings.

An interesting twist in the schedule has Dallas playing host to San Antonio on Thursday, then the Suns playing at San Antonio on Friday and then at Dallas on Saturday. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich could opt to rest multiple players in either game of the back-to-back considering the No. 1 seed is all but sewn up.

As for the Grizzlies — who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Phoenix, but not Dallas — they’ve dropped four of six, and were no match for the Spurs in Sunday’s 112-92 trouncing. Next up is a home date with Miami on Wednesday before absolute must-have games against Philadelphia at home and the Lakers on the road.

Here’s how the remaining schedules shake out for the Mavs, Suns and Grizzlies:

No. 7 Mavericks (47-31)

Tuesday: at Utah

Thursday: vs. San Antonio

Saturday: vs. Phoenix

April 16: at Memphis


No. 8 Suns (46-31)

Wednesday: at New Orleans

Friday: at San Antonio

Saturday: at Dallas

Monday: vs. Memphis

April 16: at Sacramento


No. 9 Grizzlies (45-32)

Wednesday: vs. Miami

Friday: vs. Philadelphia

Sunday: at L.A. Lakers

Monday: at Phoenix

April 16: vs. Dallas


  1. Troy says:

    It should be a playoff between the Suns and Memphis for the 8th seed

  2. Z for 3 says:

    Am I the only one that believes the Mavs have been somewhat under the radar this year? BTW the Suns are easily the feel good story of the NBA this year

  3. Ajie says:

    I do really hope that Dallas and Phoenix got the last 2 spots. What a waste if they don’t.

  4. cge says:

    GS Warriors should be included

  5. Sun’s Are Gonna make It Over Grizzlies In my Opinion Grizzlies Have a Harder Schedule

  6. The NBA needs to go to an NFL-like system. Guarantee playoff spots for teams that win their division and wild cards for the remaining 10 spots.

    Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix should not be worried about getting into the playoffs along the same likes of New York and Cleveland.

    • Tiago says:

      Are you serious? Knicks and Cleveland on the playoffs? Guarantee? Uau. And who would be out of the playoffs for them to get in if the regular season finishes today?

  7. dustydreamnz says:

    Love it how the three teams are playing each other in last few games! Gotta love the Suns effort, hope they do it.
    Don’t change the playoff format, East will be strong again soon, it goes in cycles.

  8. dirk says:

    7th mavs, 8th phoenix..memphis better luck next season..

  9. mc728 says:

    it will be nice if the suns makes the playoff when everyone predicts the suns will be the worst team in the league at the start of the season

  10. JH says:

    With the Suns being predicted to win only about 20 games, I sure hope they make at least the #8 spot. They’ve been amazing this season.

  11. johnny says:

    Its such a shame that one of these teams wont make it to the playoffs, i mean all 3 have a record good enough to go 3rd in the east at the moment… sad

  12. Erickson says:

    mavs do not own phx tie breaker there tied 1-1 as of right now.

  13. codyfunk764 says:

    i’m all about changing the playoff structure to accommodate the 16 best teams in the league, but i think geography ultimately plays a bigger part in this. what happens if the playoff rules are changed so that the best 16 teams get in, then in 5 years there’s parity again between the two (former) conferences, and everybody starts complaining about the brutal zime zone matchups due to the new rule? the playoffs last almost as long as a third of the season as it is.

    maybe it would work if the season were shortened, however. my warriors look safe at this point with a magic number of 1, but fans in phoenix, dallas, or memphis are going to be pissed (just like my 2008 48 win warriors).

  14. josh says:

    pretty sure if all 3 of them tie records then dallas will be 7th seed and memphis will be 8th since dallas has tie breaker over memphis and i think pheonix as well

    • Erickson says:

      dallas tie breaker with phx is tied 1-1 but they play again and the series will be determined.

  15. Calamity James says:

    This is crazy!
    I mean those 3 teams have better records than the 3rd seed in the East. And thats not all, they would have even better records if they were in the east, because they would have more games agaisnt east-opponents instead of strong west-opponents.
    The NBA really needs to change the rules. Teams with under .500-records cant be in the playoffs. So then the 9th seed of the other conference gets to play.
    Logistics could be tricky though, when a team from the northwest has to play some Cali-Team.

  16. flip says:

    Please NBA just get rid of the conferences and have the teams play each other 3 times in a season and the 16 best teams make the playoffs. it’s just fairer to the teams like the suns mavs and griz. and this would also eliminate series like the bucks and heat of last season

  17. Tom says:

    ridiculous system, the east-west thing needs to be trashed. Teams like the bobcats/hawks have no place in the postseason if it’s at the expense of quality teams like Phoenix/Dallas/Memphis

  18. Lester says:

    If ever they all finish with similar records, who’d be 7th and 8th, and why?

    • artifex says:

      If you mean, they all finish with the same record, you can find at the criteria:

      After record it’s
      (3) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if all tied teams are in the same division). NOT THE CASE
      (4) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference. Currently: Mavs: 27-21, Suns: 26-21, Grizz: 26-23
      (5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).
      Don’t know, how (5) would bring but I guess this is pretty rare…

  19. kavika6 says:

    We really need to re-examine the NBA playoff system considering that these three teams would be the 3, 4 and 5 seeds in the Eastern conference.

    • artifex says:

      Though I agree with Ivan (“It would be brutal to not making the playoff with a 49-33 record…”), I disagree on this.
      A change in the division/conferences (swap teams from one to another) could have opposite effect in 2,5,8 years.
      Somehow it is just as it is for all “qualifying events” that you compete in your region.
      If Finland would be east of Australia, they could make the Soccer WC. I guess usually only the best of each school is sent to e.g. a spelling contest but some 2nd at their school would be better than a number of other schools winners?

      Admittedly, this year the inter-conference difference is huge. But if you look at the top seeds only Toronto stand out. So, no matter what the overall record average, both conferences have some serious championship contenders.

  20. D says:

    We really need to re-examine the NBA playoff system considering that these three teams would be the 3, 4 and 5 seeds in the Eastern conference.

  21. thanasishuh says:

    I hope dallas will make it.we owe it to dirk!!!lets go mavs!!!

  22. Ivan says:

    It would be brutal to not making the playoff with a 49-33 record…

  23. George says:

    I honestly think the Mavs, Suns, and Grizz all finish 49-33

    • james says:

      If they all hold the same record, what will the standing be?

      • bernardo says:

        if the 3 teams hold the same record they should be awarded 7th and 8th seeds in the west and the 8th seed in the east, instead of hawks, knicks, cavs or whatever other team that will be granted playoffs even playing awful basketball.

      • Joja says:

        Good question, anybody knows?

      • chris says:

        Depends on the last games and how they play each others

      • itChan says:

        A toss coin maybe. I watched a football movie that had 3 teams having similar standings, they decided who went on by a chance.

      • Jason B says:

        If they all have the same record, the current head-to-head would put the Suns at 7 and Mavs at 8. Phoenix currently has the head-to-head over the Mavs and the Mavs have the head-to-head or Memphis.

      • jOLAN says:

        Suns lose out, Grizz I think take 7th, and Mavs 8th. I know for sure Suns lose out though if they tie either team.

      • OM says:

        the standing will be mavs 7, grizz 8, phoenix 9

      • Dirkuless says:

        It’ll be: 7 Mavs – 8 Suns – 9 Grizzlies. Mavs own the Tiebreaker!

      • Rommel says:

        i agree with @jOLAN. there was a day when all team have the identical win-lose records and Mavs and Grizz were seeded 7 and 8 respectively.

    • artifex says:

      @james: See response to Lester above

      @ George: Currently, it looks as if Memphis loose the run. 2 weeks ago I thought the Suns would remain behind due to their difficult schedule incl. Clippers, OKC and Spurs (Mavs and Grizz only have/had 2 of the .68+ teams. But that win over OKC was impressive and Mavs got theirs at the Clippers.
      So, Mavs are 1 ahead of my 49 prediction
      Suns are 2 ahead of my 47 prediction and
      Grizz are 1 behind of my 48 prediction.
      It all comes down to the last games: Suns @ Mavs (04/12), Grizz @ Suns (04/14) and Mavs @ Grizz (04/14)
      What a finish.

      • vytas says:

        It’s like league knew which teams will be competing for the last 2 playoff spots 8 months ago