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How the Phoenix Suns Can Advance in the NBA In-Season Tournament

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the last NBA In-Season Tournament group play game today, the Phoenix Suns have a decent chance to advance to the final bracket of the NBA In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas in a couple weeks.

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The Suns (9-6) take on the Memphis Grizzlies (3-11) at 3 p.m. MST today. Memphis has struggled mightily this season due to a ton of injuries, and the Suns pretty much need to blow them out to keep their Vegas hopes alive. The Lakers have already clinched the Suns’ group, and there is a single Wild Card spot in each conference awarded to the next best team out of all groups who did not win their group.

The deciding factor for this spot for the Suns will be point differential, so this is why they need to win by a decent margin today.

The Grizzlies will be missing at least seven players today: Ja Morant (league suspension), Steven Adams (right knee MCL surgery), Marcus Smart (left foot sprain), Brandon Clarke (left achilles tendon repair), Luke Kennard (left knee bone bruise), Xavier Tillman (left knee injury recovery) and Jake LaRavia (left eye abrasion). Desmond Bane is a game-time decision with a left foot sprain, so this number could increase.

However, the Suns just listed Kevin Durant as out for this game. Drew Eubanks (left ankle sprain), Bradley Beal (low back strain), Yuta Watanabe (left quad contusion) and Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) are all already out for the Suns.

Even still, Phoenix should be able to beat Memphis by a large amount. Here’s how the Western Conference In-season Tournament standings look right now, as the Suns are one game back of the Wild Card spot.

What Else Needs to go Right for the Suns

Today is the Suns’ last group play game. However, there are also group play games on Tuesday, so Phoenix will lkely have to wait until then to see if they make it.

As you can see from above, the biggest competitors for the Suns are the Kings, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Warriors and Rockets.

Here’s how the full slate of games looks today:

The Kings and and Timberwolves are both undefeated and square off today, so this will be the biggest game to watch for the Suns. Both have one more remaining game, so we will not know for sure what happens with these two until Tuesday.

The Nuggets and Warriors each have one loss and also matchup today, so the winner of this game will be the competition for the Suns heading into Tuesday. If the Nuggets win, we will know after tonight’s Pelicans game if they are ahead of the Suns. New Orleans owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Nuggets, so they will have to defeat the Clippers tonight to clinch that group. If New Orleans loses, they will be eliminated with a Suns’ victory, but if both teams win the Suns will have to see how their point differential compares with Denver’s. If Houston beats Denver, we will have to wait until Tuesday when they play the Mavericks to see how this shapes out.

The Warriors could enter into close striking distance of the Suns if they blow out the struggling Spurs tonight in terms of point differential. However, they face the Kings on Tuesday, so that game could end up being the biggest determinator of if the Suns make it or not.

For all of the above teams, Suns’ fans will have to root for them to either lose Tuesday or be below whatever the Suns’ total point differential is.

As mentioned before, the only thing Suns’ fans can really do is hope they blow out the Grizzlies and then just wait and see how the point differential stacks up. They could very well be the only 3-1 team after today that hasn’t clinched and just have to wait until Tuesday to see what ends up happening.

How the Suns Can Be Eliminated

A loss tonight will essentially eliminate Phoenix. Here’s officially how they can be eliminated:

  1. PHX loss + NOP win + DEN win
  2. PHX loss + MIN win + GSW win
  3. PHX loss + point differential
  4. NOP win + DEN win + point differential
  5. MIN win + GSW win + point differential

We will see what ends up happening tonight for the Suns, but fans will likely have to play the waiting game.

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Brendan Mau is a senior writer covering the Phoenix Suns and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on X via @Brendan_Mau

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