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Is There Any Way for the Phoenix Suns to be Eliminated from the NBA In-Season Tournament?

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The NBA In-Season Tournament group play games conclude today, and while the Suns have already wrapped up their group play schedule, tonight still matters for them to advance to the quarterfinals.

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Here is how the standings look right now. The Suns finished group play with a 3-1 record and +34 point differential. As of now and what will almost certainly happen, the Suns hold the sole wild card spot. They would travel to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday or Tuesday of next week. The winner of this game will advance to the semifinals in Las Vegas for a chance to make it the championship.

How the Suns Can Clinch

The Lakers won the Suns’ group, so there is no way for Phoenix to advance into the top-3 seeds. The way that the tiebreaker is decided for the final wild card spot (among teams that finish 3-1 and don’t win their group) is by point differential. A team would have to best Phoenix’s +34 differential.

Because of Devin Booker banking in a three on the final Suns’ offensive possession in their 110-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night, the Suns will edge out the New Orleans Pelicans (+33 differential) by one point for this wild card spot if it comes down to the two teams. The Houston Rockets hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans. If Houston wins tonight against the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans will be eliminated.

With that being said, really the only game that matters tonight for the Suns is the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game. If the Timberwolves lose, the Suns automatically clinch.

The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings game could also have implications for the Suns. Really the only situation to where it could matter is if the Kings win and Minnesota beats Oklahoma City by 37 points or more, which would eliminate the Suns in favor of the Timberwolves. Another situation that has a very, very slim chance of happening is that the Timberwolves beat the Thunder by 38 or more, and the Warriors defeat the Kings by 30 or more, in which case Golden State would get in over the Suns.

If any of these teams tie with the Suns in point differential, the tiebreaker would come down to total points scored. The Timberwolves need 148 points to reach the Suns in this category, while the Warriors need 120 in addition to blowing their opponents out by the needed point differential.

Barring some wild outcomes tonight between four pretty good teams, the Suns will most likely rematch against the Lakers, who they have lost to twice this season. The only other team they could play in the quarterfinals is the Kings, who would have to beat the Warriors by 55 points.

If they do play against the Lakers, the Suns will have the chance to avenge their two early losses to LA, and this time will likely have Booker against them for the first time.

Devin Booker made it clear that players care about the In-Season Tournament

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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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