EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Suns still have unsettled Western Conference tiebreakers

Mar 14, 2023, 8:38 AM | Updated: 9:04 am

There’s a feeling that the Phoenix Suns looked ready to separate and secure a first-round home playoff series when Kevin Durant helped them win three games in a row.

Then he twisted his ankle and a two-game skid against division rivals changed the tenor of the Suns’ remaining 14 games. Ten of their remaining games are against other teams in the Western Conference playoff race.

At 37-31, the Suns sit in fourth place.

They are 1.5 games ahead of the Golden State Warriors, who beat the Suns on Monday, and 3.5 games behind the Sacramento Kings, who dropped Phoenix on Saturday.

But the Suns still have strong tiebreakers going for them in the bunch of teams from Sacramento in the No. 3 seed down to the Utah Jazz in the No. 12 seed. Still, only one of those — coincidentally against Golden State — is securely locked in.

Between No. 4 Phoenix and No. 13 Utah, there is only a 4.5-game difference in overall records.

Of notable trends since we last did this exercise on Feb. 15:

— Dallas has gone 3-7 since then, falling from the sixth seed to the eighth seed. The Kyrie Irving addition saw the Mavs win their first two games before the ugly 10-game stretch. Durant’s heroics in Phoenix’s thrilling March 5 win stand out, as it tied the teams’ season series at 2-2 and made the tiebreaker the teams’ respective conference records — the Suns’ is better at the moment.

— The Warriors have moved from ninth to fifth place in the Western Conference. They are rolling.

— The Los Angeles Lakers, despite an injury to LeBron James, have come together after a roster overhaul at the trade deadline. They are 7-3 since Feb. 15 and have moved from the 13th seed all the way to ninth.

Without further ado, here’s a quick peek at tiebreakers with the other Western Conference teams to illustrate the gravity of the final 14 games.


Phoenix Suns tiebreaker tracker

No. 3 seed – Sacramento Kings (40-27)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-1 with one game left (March 24)


No. 5 seed – Golden State Warriors (36-33)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns — LOCKED

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 3-1 with no games left


No. 6 seed – Los Angeles Clippers (36-33)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-1 with one game left (season finale on April 9)


No. 7 seed – Minnesota Timberwolves (35-34)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-1 with one game left (March 29)


No. 8 seed – Dallas Mavericks (34-35)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-2 with no games left

Second tiebreaker – Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division: Not applicable

Third tiebreaker – Division won-lost percentage for teams in the same division: Not applicable

Fourth tiebreaker – Conference won-lost percentage: The Suns at 24-17 (.585) have an advantage over the Mavericks’ 25-21 (.543) record.


No. 9 seed – Los Angeles Lakers (33-35)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-0 with two games left (March 22, April 7)


No. 10 seed – New Orleans Pelicans (33-35)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-2 with no games left

Second tiebreaker – Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division: Not applicable

Third tiebreaker – Division won-lost percentage for teams in the same division: Not applicable

Fourth tiebreaker – Conference won-lost percentage: The Suns at 24-17 (.585) have a slim advantage over Pelicans’ 22-18 (.550) record.


No. 11 seed – Oklahoma City Thunder (33-35)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 2-0 with two games left (March 19, April 2)


No. 12 seed – Utah Jazz (33-36)

Who has the tiebreaker right now? Suns

First tiebreaker – Suns’ record vs. them: 1-1 with one game left (March 27)

Second tiebreaker – Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division: Not applicable

Third tiebreaker – Division won-lost percentage for teams in the same division: Not applicable

Fourth tiebreaker – Conference won-lost percentage: The Suns at 24-17 (.585) have an advantage over Utah’s 21-22 (.488) record.

Empire of the Suns

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns reacts as he walks past Kevin Durant #35 during the first half ...

Kellan Olson

Suns show same bad vibes, do barely enough to beat depleted Clippers

The Phoenix Suns were gifted a depleted Los Angeles Clippers squad on Wednesday the night after a terrible loss to L.A.

2 days ago

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...

Kellan Olson

Suns continue to show fractures in embarrassing loss to Clippers

The Phoenix Suns continue to show on the court they are not a fully connected group and Tuesday was the latest terrible loss to reflect that.

3 days ago

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson and Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (Jeremy Schnell/...

Kellan Olson

Zion Williamson steps up to moment, Suns lose crucial game to Pelicans

In the biggest game of the regular season for both the Pelicans and Suns, it was Zion Williamson that dominated the key moments.

5 days ago

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)...

Kellan Olson

Suns hit first, jumble up Timberwolves in 3rd straight win

The Phoenix Suns used one of their best defensive performances of the season to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves.

7 days ago

(Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Suns)...

Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns’ new Player 15 Group HQ gives staff upgraded working space

The Player 15 Group unveiled its headquarters on Thursday, a big-time upgrade of working space for Suns, Mercury and arena staff members.

8 days ago

Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives to the basket against Donovan Mitchell #45 and Evan Mobl...

Kellan Olson

Devin Booker, Kevin Durant carry Suns through good and bad of win vs. Cavs

It wasn't a complete win for the Phoenix Suns but their highs were way up there against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

9 days ago

Suns still have unsettled Western Conference tiebreakers