The Memphis Grizzlies needed a victory against NBA’s best San Antonio Spurs while the Phoenix Suns also wanted the win versus yet another top team in the league in the Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday. Only one performed above par and as a result is now ahead of the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies fell to the Spurs big time, 112-92 despite the defending West champions missing lead guard Tony Parker, who had to leave the game in the middle of the first quarter because of a back injury.
Meanwhile, the Suns surprised the Thunder with an inspiring 122-115 victory at home. Phoenix almost collapsed in the fourth quarter as OKC battled back by XX points down but Goran Dragic, P.J. Tucker and company was composed enough to hold off Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder to get the all-important W.
As a result, the Suns are now one game ahead of the Grizzlies in the West team standings.
Battle for the West’s Final Slots:
6. Golden State Warriors (48-29) 7. Dallas Mavericks (47-31) 8. Phoenix Suns (46-31) 9. Memphis Grizzlies (45-32)
Golden State Warriors (2 home, 3 away) - DEN, @LAL, @POR, MIN, @DEN Dallas Mavericks (2 home, 2 away) - @UTA, SAS, PHX, @MEM Memphis Grizzlies (2 home, 3 away) - MIA, PHI, @LAL, @PHX, DAL Phoenix Suns (1 home, 4 away) - @NOP, @SAS, @DAL, MEM, @SAC
However, all is not lost for Memphis even as the Golden State Warriors (48-29) at sixth place and Dallas Mavericks (47-31) at seventh are not out of the woods yet. All four teams are still in danger of being the bubble team in this four-squad race for three postseason slots.
The Suns still have the toughest schedule left to end the season with four out of five games on the road.-- three of which are marquee match-ups against the Mavericks (in Dallas) and the Grizzlies (in Phoenix).
The Warriors need three more wins to officially clinch and they have the easiest schedule as well with games against scrub teams and/or lottery-bound squads in the Nuggets (twice), Lakers and Timberwolves.
Which three teams will make the postseason? And which one will get the boot?