The Phoenix Suns have done just about everything they can to put themselves in position for a spot in the Western Conference Play-In.
Thursday night’s live NBA games on Sky Sports
- Mavericks @ Suns | Sky Sports Arena | Thursday 9pm
- Trail Blazers @ Nets | Sky Sports Arena | Friday 2am
They are 7-0 – the only undefeated team in the NBA bubble – and have one seeding game to go on Thursday. It is against a team they have already beaten in the league’s restart games, the Dallas Mavericks.
The Suns (33-39) can pull off an improbable run to the Western Conference Play-In with a win over Dallas and losses by either the Portland Trail Blazers or Memphis Grizzlies, which would give Phoenix the No 9 seed.
If the Suns win and both the Blazers and Grizzlies lose, the Suns would be the No 8 seed and would need to be beaten twice by the No 9 seed in the Play-In this weekend. A loss to the Mavericks eliminates Phoenix.
The Suns’ streak might never have been if not for a 117-115 comeback win over the Mavericks back on August 2. All-Star Devin Booker, a candidate for the soon-to-be-awarded Player of the Seeding Games honour, scored 30 points to lead Phoenix to the win despite 40 points and 11 assists from Dallas star Luka Doncic. That was the Suns’ second win of the seeding round.
Booker has four 35-point games in Florida, and he will lead the Suns into their most meaningful game in a decade, live on Sky Sports Arena at 9pm.
“We know that we’re not totally in control of our fate, but we put ourselves in a good position. Nobody would have guessed the Phoenix Suns would be in this position before all of this started and our guys have just battled and executed and made the plays necessary to give us a chance,” head coach Monty Williams told the Arizona Republic.
The Mavericks were in a position to help the Suns’ play-in chances on Tuesday, but could not stop Damian Lillard and the Blazers in falling 134-131. Dallas (43-23) are locked into the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Mavericks’ top tandem of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis played major minutes against Portland, with both in the game late in the fourth quarter and hitting critical shots. It is not yet clear how much the two will play on Thursday, or if Seth Curry and his important scoring and minutes off the bench will be available after the guard sat out of Tuesday’s game with right leg soreness.
Porzingis seems to already be looking ahead to the postseason, where a match-up with the LA Clippers awaits.
“Obviously we’re competing and trying to win every game that we have here and at the same time, play with each other and have these regular season games as a warm-up or preparation for the playoffs,” Porzingis said. “It looks like we are going to play the Clippers, and that’s going to be a fun match-up.
“We want to go out there, play our best basketball so far, put all the little things together and make some noise. That’s our goal,” he added.