PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Now the real fun begins.
Time to separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Time for the Suns to decide whether or not they want to be a part of the postseason fun as an 82-game marathon comes down to an eight-game sprint.
"We have to just embrace this moment," Channing Frye said.
The Suns are among four teams fighting to secure one of the final three playoff spots in the Western Conference.
"We set a goal at the beginning of the season, that's to make the playoffs. We feel like if we don't make the playoffs, then this season is unsuccessful," Gerald Green said. "We know that this is a desperation moment for us."
Here is what each of the four teams has remaining:
Recently, head coach Jeff Hornacek pegged 47 wins as the magic number needed to be included in the postseason for the first time in four years. Tuesday, he upped the ante.
"I didn't expect all of the teams to do as well as they did here at the end with tough schedules. Dallas has been playing great. Memphis has been playing great. We played great and got us in this position over the last 10 games," he said after practice. "Forty-seven is not going to cut it. Forty-eight if you have the tiebreaker. Forty-nine maybe more likely."
Since the playoff field expanded to 16 teams in 1984, no team has won as many as 49 or 50 games and been left out. Historically, 48 wins has been a sure bet for the postseason, with the exception of the 2007-08 Golden State Warriors, who have the distinction of being the winningest lottery team at 48-34.
So to be safe, a 49-win regular season would require the Suns to go 5-3 over these last eight games, beginning with the L.A. Clippers Wednesday at US Airways Center.
"It would be a great thing if we ended up making the playoffs and got in there with all the tanking talk that was talked about during the beginning of the year for a lot of teams," Hornacek said, "that we'd be one of these teams that didn't tank and ended up making the playoffs."
Of course, the Suns did themselves no favors by losing at the Lakers on Sunday, when at the same time both the Warriors and Grizzlies lost as well.
"Everybody knows that was a big slippage for us," Goran Dragic said. "(Making the playoffs is) going to be a little bit tougher now, but why not."