Here we go. The Suns have a chance to solidify their playoff positioning while making a statement against an old nemesis in a potential first round series preview. Hopefully the Suns won't have a hard time getting up for this one...

When: 6:30 PM local time (8:30 ET)

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

Watch/Listen: FSNAZ / KTAR 620AM 98.7FM

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Gregg Popovich is a hell of a coach.

He has finished with a winning percentage equal to or better than .610 (which correspondss to a 50-32 record) in all seventeen seasons he has shared with Timmy Timster. His overall regular season record is 965-441 (.686), which means he will reach 1,000 about halfway through next season. He has hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy four times.

Despite all of this Pop has only won the NBA Coach of the Year award twice in his illustrious career. For a second I almost thought it might have something to do with his curt, brusque nature, but then I discovered Phil Jackson only managed to win it once. All he had to do was set an NBA record for wins with 72 to get it.

But Don Nelson has three. How stupid is that award?

The inscrutable Pop will have another chance to his show off his basketball psychology tonight when he trots out some melange of players that may or may not consist of most of his regular rotation. I mean, really, would you be surprised to see any combination of Parker, Duncan and Manu "The Sneak" play or not play?

Tim Duncan is a hell of a player.

It seems exceedingly absurd to me that at 37, fresh on the heels of being named All-NBA first team last season, Duncan is still mirroring his career production.

His career per36 numbers are 20.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 blocks.

His 2013/14 per36 numbers are 18.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.4 blocks.

Talk about a declivitous descent.

Keeping on the Timmy theme, what kind of NBA fan am I that I had to be reminded he is fondly referred to as Death and Taxes? Are there any other nicknames for Pop that I don't know about/can't remember? Damn CRS. I kind of think that maybe he could borrow the Death part from his all-everything big man. Tell me that Pop couldn't pull off the Grim Reaper Halloween costume. But maybe Taxes isn't enough left over... Would Tim-scendent serve as a placeholder?

For a while I thought that the Spurs were kind of like White Goodman from Globo Gym, running around with the mantra of, "Here in San Antonio, We're better than you! And we know it!"

But as I get older mature it occurs to me that it might have just as much to do with my pesky inferiority complex, which I just know I could get over if I wasn't so worthless, as it does with any grandstanding, condescending behavior from that franchise. They are just a paragon of NBA excellence.

Professional sports excellence in general. In an era of disposable coaches and players with wanderlust chasing after gr$$ner pastures this type of relationship just doesn't exist anymore. Today's sports landscape is dominated by ADD and dollar signs.

Having a hall of fame coach and a hall of fame player (and I'm talking about the really good part of the hall) on the same team for 17 seasons while winning four championships (and counting)... is the quintessence of a love affair between a fan base and its team. It is THE sports dream. If only we could change the colors from silver and black to orange and purple...

I was going to write something glowing about the Spurs starting point guard, but I am currently running a smear campaign against all Tony's that aren't A) Tigers, B) Members of Mob Families or C) The Boss. Also, Parker's real name is William. I guess Bill doesn't sound quite as French.

Positive twist time. If Parker plays tonight there is a chance that he might aggravate his back injury and possibly make him less effective in a first round playoff series AND it would send an even better message when we smoke them with a full complement of players. If he doesn't play the Suns can take advantage of an opportunity to throttle them again like the last meeting in Phoenix (106-85). Then again, maybe it doesn't even matter in the Spurs system of "next man up" ball.

It didn't last night when the Spurs did the Suns a solid by beating the Dallas Mavericks to propel Phoenix into sole possession of 7th place in the Western Conference standings. There's a plethora of pinatas of other reading material on BSotS about possible playoff scenarios so I won't delve too deep into the minutia, but I'm still leaning towards the scenario where the Suns just win out (possibly moving up to the sixth seed).

Although the Spurs recently had their 19 game win streak snapped, a streak that started a game after they were pasted by the Suns, they are still winners of 14 straight at home. Combine that with the fact that the Suns have lost eight of their last nine at the AT&T Center and tonight's contest seems rather daunting.

But the Suns aren't the same team that dropped seven of those eight away games. The Suns are actually doing their own version of streaking and have won 11 of their last 14. The team is finishing strong.

Phoenix is now 19-0 in games where Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe both score at least 16 points. Considering their season averages are 20.5 and 17.6 points per game, respectively, as long as these two play at least averagish the Suns are absolutely unbeatable. Which is good. The Suns are also 21-6 in the last 27 games Bledsoe has played.

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Tonight is the perfect opportunity to put a sound ass whipping on the Spurs and let them know the purple and orange gang is salivating at the prospect of knocking them on their storybook ass in the first round of the playoffs. The pantsing Goran gave them in the 2010 playoffs will look like warm up stretching before the savage beating they are in store for.

The Suns already held their own against their other two possible playoff matchups in recent outings, so it's looking like no matter what Phoenix fans should be in for an entertaining series.

The Thunder and Suns seem pretty maladroit at guarding each other so that promises to be a track meet with a nice subplot of Russell Westbrook and several Suns butting heads while the Clippers and Suns just flat out don't seem to like each other very much.  These vibes of on court animosity are actually kind of cool in a league where all the players are besties off the court. Not as many seething hatred rivalries these days.

I'm pretty much conceding the Suns a playoff spot now, inviting the you know what fairy, but so be it. The players share the burden of blindly focusing on the task at hand, which leaves me in the position to do all the looking ahead I can handle. And to be quite frank, I really want the Spurs. After the times they crushed our dreams I would take a smug satisfaction in brooming them out of the playoffs for the second time in the swan song of Timmy's career.

When he looks back at the end of his playing days I want playoff losses against Phoenix to rise prominently to the forefront. Of course that's just me.

In order to ramp up some fervor in anticipation of tonight's game and my hopeful playoff scenario I've included a couple of tidbits from the last time the Suns and Spurs played truly meaningful games. Since tonight's contest seems pretty playoffsy.



The Spurs take care of Dallas while the Warriors get Mosgov'd.

In the comments of yesterday's playoff report an exchange with Nate_Sun86 led me to prepare a breakdown of all scenarios where the Suns went 2-1 over their next 3 and also 1-2 over their next 3.  One of the assumptions I made in those scenarios was that Dallas would defeat San Antonio last night.  So I threw it on the ground.  Because I'm an adult and not a part of your system I had almost a fully flushed out word document with the new scenarios which took into account the Dallas loss - then Golden State lost to the Nuggets.

That loss brought all sorts of other tiebreaker scenarios to the forefront and broke my brain entirely.  But since I'm nice - here's roughly where we are tiebreaker wise:

  • Suns/Mavericks - head to head even at 1-1, winner of Saturday's game wins the tiebreaker.
  • Suns/Grizzlies -  Grizzlies are up 3-0 on head to head and have already won the tiebreaker.
  • Grizzlies/Mavericks -  Mavericks are up 3-0 head to head and have already won the tiebreaker.
  • Suns/Warriors -  head to head is even at 2-2 so we move to the next tiebreaker for teams in the same division - division record, which is clinched by GSW already (10-5 to 7-8).
  • Suns/Mavs/Grizz -  the tiebreaker is record in games among the three teams, Dallas is 4-1, Memphis is 3-3, and Phoenix is 1-4.  Each team has 2 to play. The only way this goes well for the Suns is if Memphis loses their last 2 and the Suns win their last 2 but if that happens there won't be a 3 way tie anyway.
  • Suns/Grizz/Warriors - same three way tiebreaker.  Memphis is 5-2 (2-2 against GSW, 3-0 against Phoenix), Golden State is 4-4 (2-2 against Phoenix/Memphis), and Phoenix is 2-5 (0-3 against Memphis, 2-2 against GSW).  Suns would be dead here. 
  • Suns/Mavs/Warriors - same three way tiebreaker.  Golden State is 5-3 (2-2 against Phoenix, 3-1 against Dallas), Phoenix is 3-3 (2-2 against Golden State, 1-1 against Dallas), and Dallas is 2-4 (1-1 against Phoenix, 1-3 against Golden State).  In the highly unlikely (and potentially impossible event the Suns lose to Dallas and tie these teams, they're done.

If any of that is wrong feel free to correct me - I'm sitting in a staff meeting at the moment.

Thursday April 10th Key Western Conference Results:

San Antonio Spurs 109 Dallas Mavericks 100 (Recap) -  Tony Parker didn't play for the Spurs but it didn't matter.  Hell Patty Mills took 25 shots and only scored 26 points and it still didn't matter (although it helped he shot 6/11 from three).  The Spurs are really good at winning games.  Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 24 points and you're not reading this part so I'm just going to go into a shopping list - I need cereal and milk.  I like cereals with cartoon mascots on the box.

Denver Nuggets 100 Golden State Warriors 99 (Recap) -  I'll admit I barely even bothered to watch this game because I thought the Full Squad would take care of business.  The Nuggets trailed this game by as many as 12 in the 3rd quarter but the heavenly ascension of Timofey Mosgov (23 points and 29 - yes 29 - rebounds) allowed them to keep it close.  It looked like Golden State was going to survive when Steph Curry hit a floater with 5 seconds left but Denver got the ball into Kenneth Faried who hit a shot in the lane to take the game.  Steph Curry led Golden State with 24 points and Klay Thompson added 21.

Golden State is still the favorite to finish with the 6 seed in the West but they finish with 3 of their last 4 games on the road (@Lakers, @Blazers, v. Minnesota, @Denver).  Mark Jackson - the door is ajar.

Current Western Conference Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB L10 STREAK
1.San Antonio
61 18 .772 - 8-2 WON 1
2. Oklahoma City
57 21 .731 3.5
7-3 WON 2
3. LA Clippers
55 24 .696 6 7-3 LOST 1
4. Houston 52 26 .667 8.5 6-4 LOST 1
5. Portland
51 28 .646 10 6-4 WON 2
6. Golden State
48 30 .615 12.5 6-4 LOST 1
7. SUNS
47 31 .603 13.5 8-2 WON 3
8. Dallas
48 32 .600 13.5
6-4 LOST 1
- Memphis
46 32 .590 14.5 6-4 WON 1

Friday April 11th Western Conference Games of Significance:

Suns @ Spurs - At this point of the morning we don't really even know who's going to play for either team. Coro reported that Dragic is questionable with an ankle injury (roughly his 10 millionth) while other reports suggest both Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are going to sit out tonight.  Parker has sat the last two games while Duncan suffered a bit of a knee scare in the 1st half last night but still played 39 minutes.  I don't think there's any shame in saying we have no clue what's going to happen tonight, so I'll say Spurs by 10.

76ers @ Grizzlies - I hear a lot of you say things like "anything can happen any night in the NBA" and "they're all NBA players" - but when your team has won 2 games since February started I don't think any of that applies.  The Sixers are bad and they should feel bad.  Memphis will win this game by 73.  Need a morning laugh?  Go check out the Philly roster.

Warriors @ Lakers Won't some other playoff contender sleepwalk through a game with a bad Lakers team and take a horrible loss?  If so I'd really appreciate it.  The odds are against Golden State suffering a second consecutive bad loss but at least the Lakers are sort of an NBA team - unlike Philly.

Programming alert: Join the VotS crew for a Google Hangout video chat at 4 p.m. MST. We’ll preview the game and the road ahead. Time: 5:30 p.m. MST TV: FSA From friend to foe in less than 24...

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Across the Internet, Thursdays have turned into Throwback Thursdays, where social media users and abusers post old pictures of themselves. ValleyoftheSuns has decided to jump into the Phoenix Suns’...

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As the Suns survive, the Grizzlies grab an enormous win against the two-time defending champions.

If you are a fan of backing into the playoffs then last night was not the night for you.  With the Memphis win over Miami, the Suns are basically going to have to split their next two games (@Spurs, @Mavericks) to avoid a potential elimination game with Memphis on Monday.  This is of course conditioned on the Grizzlies winning their next two games - but since those games are home against Philly and at the Lakers - logic would suggest they're going to take care of business.

So if the Suns lose both of their weekend contests and the Grizzlies earn their expected results, the Grizz/Suns will meet on Monday with the Suns trailing by a game and the tiebreaker already lost.  That would mean the Suns would need to beat Memphis, beat Sacramento, and have Dallas beat Memphis (in Memphis) just to make the playoffs. Basically the Suns can't lose both games this weekend.

There's your morning pessimism.  On to the recap:

Wednesday April 9th Key Western Conference Results:

Phoenix Suns 94 New Orleans Pelicans 88 (Recap) -  I honestly don't think this game could have been uglier.  In the preview thread a few of us wound up in a typically ridiculous exchange regarding what would happen in the event the Suns lost to a Pelicans team playing without Anthony Davis and pretty much every other relevant player on the team other than Tyreke Evans.  In the proposed alternate history hellscape, Alex Skinner brought up coming upon a barely surviving Al McCoy who uttered "Shaa-- Shazaam" and then I added that with his dying breath he'd mutter "Withey....."

As I watched this game come down to the wire and completely ignored the coworkers I foolishly agreed to go to happy hour with (side note -  do not agree to go to a happy hour with coworkers who don't care about basketball during the middle of a playoff race.  I'm an idiot) I couldn't help but think that the prophecy would come true and Bright Side would descend into a Jeff Withey, old Pierre the Pelican, and King Cake Baby-run police state.

Luckily for those of us who didn't want to be slaves to the King Cake Baby regime, Eric Bledsoe came up with a clutch steal, assist, and jumper in a 48 second stretch to help give the Suns a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Crazy Uncle Gerald scored 21 points (4/7 from three) to lead the Suns while the Dragon added 20 and Bledsoe put in 16 (all in the 2nd half).  As you all know, I'm no basketball genius but to make the playoffs the Suns should probably avoid going 4 minutes and 32 seconds without a basket at the start of the 2nd half the rest of the way.

Our proposed overlord Jeff Withey led the Pelicans with 17 points - which I'm sure you won't be surprised to find is his career high.

Memphis Grizzlies 107 Miami Heat 102 (Recap) -   I guess we shouldn't be totally surprised but we can certainly be disappointed.  Miami was playing with Dwayne Wade, Greg Oden, Udonis Haslem, and potentially most surprisingly Chris Andersen and they simply ran out of steam against a motivated Grizzlies team.  The champs led by 7 with 2 and a half minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter but Memphis went on a 36-17 run over the next 13 minutes and took the game.

Without Andersen helping to man the middle, the Grizzlies bigs dominated the Miami front line.  Zach Randolph scored 25 points on 12/15 shooting while Marc Gasol had 20 points of his own.  Mike Conley chipped in 26.  When all three of those guys are going for the Grizz they are a tough team to beat.  LeBron James led Miami with 37 points but the 2nd leading scorer was Rashard Lewis.  If your 2nd leading scorer is Rashard Lewis and it isn't 2009 - you're gonna have a bad time.

Current Western Conference Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB L10 STREAK
1.San Antonio
60 18 .769 - 8-2 LOST 1
2. Oklahoma City
57 21 .731 3
7-3 WON 2
3. LA Clippers
55 24 .696 5.5 7-3 LOST 1
4. Houston 52 26 .667 8 6-4 LOST 1
5. Portland
51 28 .646 9.5 6-4 WON 2
6. Golden State
48 29 .623 11.5 7-3 WON 2
7. Dallas
48 31 .608 12.5 7-3 WON 4
8. SUNS
47 31 .603 13
8-2 WON 3
- Memphis
46 32 .590 14 6-4 WON 1

Thursday April 10th Western Conference Games of Significance:

Spurs @ Mavericks -  Tony Parker isn't playing and Manu Ginobili left the Spurs last game with a left calf contusion.  With the Spurs having all but clinched home court advantage throughout the playoffs and coming off a spanking at the hands of the T'Wolves you begin to wonder what their level of motivation will be tonight.  Dallas will want this game more but I've learned to never underestimate Pop magic.

Nuggets @ Warriors - If the Warriors win this game I'll ignore them for the rest of the season.  If they lose then they might put themselves a LITTLE more in play.  David Lee remains out for Full Squad while the Nuggets are coming off a pair of scrappy battles against the Rockets - one of which they won.

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