Suns’ Cinderella season on the brink

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com


VIDEO: The Suns are trying their best to make a frantic playoff charge

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Can the Phoenix Suns summon the energy to rise once more? Or will their improbable postseason hopes finally set?

Elimination day has arrived for the league’s season-long surprise team in Game 81. Phoenix (47-33) must beat the the Memphis Grizzlies (48-32) at home tonight (10 p.m. ET, League Pass) or the book will close on its Cinderella season, and the Grizzlies will clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

It will take a Herculian effort. The Suns are picking themselves up from consecutive gut-punch road losses Friday and Saturday at San Antonio and Dallas in which they lost double-digits leads in both. Team MVP Goran Dragic is playing on a badly sprained left ankle. And then there’s this: Memphis, the antithesis of Phoenix’s fastbreaking style, is the lone Western Conference team the Suns have not defeated this season; they’re 0-3. The two teams last met on Jan. 10.

“We are still going to fight until the end,” Dragic said following Saturday’s 101-98 loss at Dallas in which Phoenix lost a 13-point third-quarter lead. “We have two games left and hopefully we can win the next game against Memphis and if so, anything is possible.”

If Phoenix wins tonight, it will move into a dead heat in the standings with Memphis, but will still need help to get into the playoffs. The Suns play at Sacramento on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET, League Pass) and will likely know by tipoff or shortly thereafter if the game holds meaning. They’ll need to have Dallas to win at Memphis (8 p.m. ET, ESPN), where the Grizzlies have won 13 in a row.

“We’ve got to stay positive,” said guard Eric Bledsoe, who has put up 59 points, 15 assists, 15 rebounds, but also 14 turnovers in the last two games. “There’s still life out there. These two teams, Memphis and Dallas have to play each other, so we have to take our next two games real serious.”

Dragic sprained his ankle last Wednesday night at New Orleans, stayed in the game and played 39 minutes. He missed Friday’s game against the Spurs and returned Saturday at Dallas, heavily taped, and logged more than 40 minutes. His availability tonight could be in jeopardy.

“It’s not a good situation for me, not good timing,” Dragic said Saturday. “I twisted my ankle against New Orleans, played the whole game and after the game it swelled a lot. It’s tough. I mean, no excuses, a lot of NBA players have to go through those pains, so I have to try to help my teammates as much as I can.”

The Grizzlies, 35-15 since Jan. 1 after starting 13-17, can wrap up a fourth consecutive playoff berth with a victory tonight. That would set up Wednesday’s home game against the Mavericks, who locked up a playoff berth with Saturday’s win over Phoenix, as a fight for the seventh seed, with a remote chance at the sixth seed.

Golden State needs one more win to clinch the sixth seed and can do so tonight at home against Minnesota (10:30 p.m., ET, NBA TV).

The No. 8 seed will face the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the opening round. The No. 7 seed will likely face the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Los Angeles Clippers have an outside chance of securing the No. 2 seed.

17 Comments

  1. okc2014 says:

    I agree, the Phoenix Suns are exciting to watch, and I’m kinda sad they didn’t make playoffs. And I also agree the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks are boring to watch, just like them Spurs. I don’t know which one does the job better; those teams or a box of sleepy time tea..

  2. Mike says:

    The Phoenix Suns’ season proves how much of a joke the Eastern conference is. I think the NBA should seriously reconsider its Conference format when a losing team like Atlanta (37-44) can make the playoffs and the Suns (47-34) miss out. When a team is called a “playoff team” it’s generally implied that they are one of the best teams in the league. Sadly, the Hawks will be remembered as a playoff team, and the Suns will not. Is this fair?

  3. Grizz & Mavs are going to be swept in the 1st round & so would have been the Suns. None of these 3 stand a chance against OKC & Spurs in the playoffs. It’s not season bball anymore starting this weekend.

    So who cares about the Suns not making it man. They are out & good luck next season, thanks for buying & pls come again!

  4. Johnsolors says:

    If suns going to win… dallas would not care since they still hold 7th seed….. cuban will rest dirk and marion also carter in memphis if suns win today for sure

  5. trbowman says:

    Can they not move this game onto NBA TV? I think I speak for most people when I say I’d rather watch this than the Wolves/Warriors.

  6. BlackDove- says:

    they wont make playoffs, the odds are stacked up against them

  7. SaudiPhoenixFan says:

    Come on Suns ! I haven’t watch games for too long , I was just following by results .. atm I started watching games although it have a bad timing here in Saudi Arabia ! Sadly the Suns throw couple of wins ! Hopefully we could beat Memphis Today ! Very hard scenario but hopefully we could make it !

  8. Luis says:

    Memphis and Dallas each got swept by San Antonio this season and Memphis got swept last year in the western finals vs the spurs. Actually, Memphis and Dallas have each lost their last 8 matchups with The Spurs. And the Suns actually almost beat San Antonio twice this season and match up great with the Thunder.

  9. M. Najjar says:

    Burn these Suns Memphis, Grizzlies all the way ;)

  10. T-MACK says:

    LETS GO GRIZZ……

    We dont BLUFF!….to those that say we dont have a chance against the Spurs…We beat them as an 8th seed…so DONT FORGET…

  11. MarcGasol says:

    According to their record the Suns belong in the playoff picture more than half of the East. They still deserve to be in the playoffs just like Memphis if not more. it’s true though that they probably don’t sell as many ”Paul Pierce” and ”Kevin Garnett” jerseys.

  12. Anthony says:

    No body wants to watch the leagues most boring team in Memphis in the playoffs. The suns are the definition of exciting playoff basketball. Lets go Suns. Bring us deep into april Dragic and Beldsoe. #desertcinderellas. And all of this is coming from a die hard celtics fan.

  13. TDOTtime says:

    Toronto gonna take it all

  14. The Suns doesn’t belong in the playoff picture. If this team played against the Spurs they would be dispatched in 4 at most 5 games. Memphis provides a “Brooklyn Nets of the West” vibe to the Spurs insomuch that this team is a nightmare matchup. Check out this youtube link for a interesting and unique take on the 2014 playoffs, http://bit.ly/1hOcFLA

    • LeBrOnIsKiNg says:

      The grizz will get swept if they make it. The suns could actually put up a decent fight provided everyone is healthy.

    • eric m says:

      dont belong in the picture ? first of all , most any team would be dispatched in 4-5 games vs spurs . phoenix has a better record against the most difficult teams to beat and ,frankly a much more exciting team to watch than memphis . id rather watch pheonix play than memphis or dallas . Memphis has no real chance against a series vs spurs . none . hardly a nightmare matchup . go clippers!!!