NBA play-in picture: Suns down to 5 potential 1st-round playoff opponents

Apr 6, 2022, 8:20 AM
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns is defended by Herbert Jones #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans dur...
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns is defended by Herbert Jones #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of an NBA game at Smoothie King Center on March 15, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tuesday marked a big day in the Western Conference playoff race, and for the Phoenix Suns, it wasn’t just about knocking the Los Angeles Lakers out of postseason contention.

The four-team play-in tournament for the 7-10 seeds is nearly set.

The Denver Nuggets are one win or one Minnesota Timberwolves loss from securing a playoff berth and avoiding the play-in. Each team has two games left.

As long as the Nuggets don’t lose out and the T-Wolves don’t also win out, the Suns will play one of four teams in the first round of the playoffs: The Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans or San Antonio Spurs.

At present, the standings for play-in eligible teams look like so:



Denver Nuggets
47 33 .588 16.5 28-22 6-10 22-17 25-16 3-1 5-5 L 1


Minnesota Timberwolves
45 35 .563 18.5 31-20 12-4 25-14 20-21 2-1 5-5 L 1


LA Clippers
39 40 .494 24 23-26 7-7 22-16 17-24 0-4 4-6 W 2


New Orleans Pelicans
35 44 .443 28 24-25 6-9 18-21 17-23 1-2 7-3 W 1


San Antonio Spurs
34 45 .430 29 24-25 6-9 16-24 18-21 1-3 8-2 W 3

If Denver secures a playoff berth, the Los Angeles Clippers, who are locked in as the eighth-place team, would play the Timberwolves with the winner going on to face the second-place Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

The loser of a T-Wolves-Nuggets play-in game would face the winner of the 9-10 play-in game for rights to face the Suns.

The New Orleans Pelicans (35-44) and San Antonio Spurs (34-45) are locked into those 9-10 spots, but homecourt for their play-in matchup is still to-be-determined.

How did all this get hammered out on Tuesday?

Phoenix’s franchise-record 63rd win followed San Antonio’s victory against Denver earlier in the night, and that combination of results locked the latter team into a play-in berth. The Pelicans beating the Sacramento Kings also assured them a spot in the play-in tournament.

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz dropped the Memphis Grizzlies, which secured them a playoff berth to avoid the play-in.

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