Taking a look at the tie break rules to make the playoffs, given that the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks seems determined to finish with the same record.

There have been a lot of suggestions for improving the NBA playoffs, many of which involve having more Western teams in the field of 16 than just the 8 they are allotted each season.

To wit, the Dallas Mavericks are 44-31 so far this season. That's good enough for 3rd in the East, but can't even crack the top 8 in the West.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are 36-37, which is good enough for 7th in the East but only 10th in the West.

Play-in tourney

One suggestion for improvement has been to have a "play in" tournament for the West's last two seeds.

Thanks to the schedule and the season results so far, those folks are getting their wish. The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks all have 44 wins, prompting a shuffle of the 7th-8th-9th positions on a daily basis. All three teams are already in the "play in" tournament.

Making matters even tougher, the Suns, Mavericks and Grizzlies all play each other on the final three nights of the season. The Suns play the Mavericks in Dallas, then the Grizzlies at home before finishing on the road at the Sacramento Kings. The Grizzlies and Mavericks finish the season facing each other on the final night.

The possibility definitely exists for a tiebreaker to declare the final playoff spot or two.

Two-way tiebreaker

Da Rules, per nba,com

Two Teams Tied

(1) Better winning percentage in games against each other

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if tied teams are in same division).

(3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(5) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in opposite conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(6) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

The Suns currently beat out Dallas, but lose to Memphis.

The Suns are 1-1 against Dallas but have a slightly better conference schedule, while they are 0-3 against Memphis.

Three-way tiebreaker

What if all three teams finish with the same record? Who gets the final two playoff spots?

Da Rules, per NBA.com

More Than Two Teams Tied

(1) Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams.

(2) Better winning percentage against teams in own division (only if all tied teams are in the same division).

(3) Better winning percentage against teams in own conference.

(4) Better winning percentage against teams eligible for playoffs in own conference (including teams that finished the regular season tied for a playoff position).

(5) Better net result of total points scored less total points allowed against all opponents ("point differential").

At the moment, the Phoenix Suns lose any tiebreaker that involves Memphis - either a two-way tie, or a three-way tie - because the Suns are 0-3 against Memphis this season.

Doesn't matter till game 82

We will all pull our hair out over the next two weeks, but the high likelihood is that the season won't be decided until the last game or two.

When the three teams play each other, the tie-break scenarios will likely change once again (though the Suns will almost certainly never win a tiebreak over Memphis).

The Phoenix Suns are 5-0 this season coming off a 10+-point loss, and will need to stretch that to 6-0 in order to stay in playoff position with just 8 games left in the season.

Look, every single day until the end of the season is gonna be a nail biter. Stock up at Total Wine. Hit the Costco for TV-side snacks in bulk. Hunker down.

After beating the Knicks last Friday night, the Suns had a hold on the 7th position in the West on the strength of a 6-game winning streak. Even after losing to the Lakers on Sunday, the Suns still held onto 7th.

Since then, they have not played a game but their playoff position has changed twice. They dropped to 9th on Monday night, then rose back up to 8th on Tuesday. Tonight, the Suns get a chance to resume their control of their own destiny. The playoffs have started, as far as the Suns are concerned. Their next seven games are either on the road, or against Western playoff teams, or both. Only the season-ender - at home against Sacramento - could be considered a "should win" but that only matters if the Suns win at least 3 or 4 of these 7 upcoming games.

The Opponent - The Clippers

The Clippers have managed to string together a great season despite having myriad injuries to their wing players. J.J. Redick has barely played this season, and Jamal Crawford has been in and out of the lineup for weeks. Jared Dudley has had tweaks, and has not made enough shots to justify keeping in the starting lineup.

But the Clippers solution has been to add firepower off the waiver wire - Danny Granger - and start a two-PG lineup with Chris Paul and Darren Collison pushing the pace all game long.

The Suns and the Clippers have played quite the season series. The Suns won the first six quarters they've played by 30 points, a total score of 162-132. Unfortunately, the Clippers have won the last 6 quarters by 26, a total score of 172-146. The Clippers have a 2-1 series lead.

Eric Bledsoe did not play in the two Suns losses, but he also only scored 7 points in the lone Suns win. After seeing the sheer size of the egg Bledsoe laid against the Lakers in LA, and the total of 7 points he's scored against the Clippers this season, you might wonder if Bledsoe will has a soft spot for LaLa Land.

The Clippers are a damn good team. Their offense, behind the mastermind of Alvin Gentry and Chris Paul, is #1 in the league in terms of points per possession. Their defense, behind the anchor of Jordan, isn't far behind at 6th in the league. On a normal night, they're going to whup you.

But the Suns did blow the Clips away in LaLa Land on December 30, the last time the Suns were at full strength against them.

Be sure to check out the podcast today - a special edition with ClipperSteve and our own Kris Habbas talking about these teams and tonight's game.

Also coming later is a Q and A with Steve.

The Suns

We've talked a lot about this for the past few days, so I won't dwell on it. But I still can't understand what Suns team showed up on Sunday in LA to lose like that. What a waste a good opportunity.

Anyway, we move on. The Suns are back in 8th, where they were a week ago. Still 14 games over .500, and still facing season-ending "play in" games against both Dallas and Memphis.

What you can expect tonight, based on performances so far this season, is that the Suns will play a LOT better than they did against Los Angeles.

The Suns are 5-0 this season after losing the previous game by 10+ points, with three of those bounce-back wins coming against Western Conference playoff teams.

The Stats


The Lineups


*Jared Dudley started at small-ball PF the other night while Griffin sat out. Griffin is questionable tonight.

Key Match-Up

It's got to Chris Paul against his former protege Eric Bledsoe. But on a larger scale, you'll notice that the Clippers are starting both of their point guards on a nightly basis, Paul and Darren Collison, just like the Suns start their PGs, The Slash Brothers.

It will be a battle of the two-headed mosters. This is the point where we thank Vinny Del Negro for refusing to play Paul and Bledsoe together last year, prompting the Clippers to trade Bledsoe for peanuts despite having another year under contract for cheap. But their problem is our solution.

The Prediction

The Suns are smarting from that butt-whooping in LA on Sunday, and from two straight losses to the Clippers as well. Look for the Suns to win the back court battle.

The Suns need this win a lot more than the Clippers do. I see the Suns going small a lot tonight, trying to draw Jordan away from the basket with Channing Frye and Markieff Morris at center for most of the minutes. If Frye can break out of his shooting slump and make a few threes to kick off the game, the Suns will coast.

Suns win 115-105.

Hey, look... A podcast!

Without further ado it is time for some Phoenix Suns podcast again! Who is excited?

In this weeks edition Clipper Steve (Steve Perrin) joins the show again to talk about the success of the Los Angeles Clippers as one of the best in the west. The conversation dips and dives around the Jared Dudley-Eric Bledsoe trade, hindsight, dangerous playoff teams, and Steve's irrational fear of Grizzlies. The Memphis variety.

All in all we keep circling the wagons back around to the topic that remains relevant from the beaches of LA to the deserts of the PHX: Who won the trade?

Click here to listen to the full show: Phoenix Suns Podcast Episode 54 (Clipper Steve)


Sorry Clips Nation for calling you Clippers Blog at the end there. In my defense, Steve left me high and dry at the end with the difficult responsibility of remembering the name of his website. Dangerous waters.

The Phoenix Suns center's new band will be unveiling tour dates for their summer concerts after the release of their debut album next week.

Phoenix Suns center Miles Plumlee is currently in the midst of an unexpectedly impressive sophomore season in the NBA. After playing just 55 minutes total as a rookie on the Indiana Pacers last season, Plumlee was given the starting five spot on the Suns from the get-go, and he has surprised almost everyone by averaging 8 points and 8 rebounds in 25 minutes per game.

However, there are still many things about Miles Plumlee that fans may not know. If his hair, beard and affinity for turtleneck sweaters makes him seem like he often spends rainy afternoons in the corner of a coffee shop listening to music while slowly sipping on a complicated concoction of caffeinated cocoa, that's because he in fact does enjoy all of the above.

The 25 year old's band, "The Plumbers," is set to release its debut album next week and today, several reports revealed the news that the group will be touring the U.S. this summer, during the NBA offseason.

Information about the band, its album and the upcoming tour has been shrouded in an air of secrecy. Sources confirmed that the new reports about the band's summer tour are indeed accurate but that Miles Plumlee and his bandmates prefer to maintain privacy so he can focus on the current NBA season.

One source, who prefers to maintain anonymity because he believes identifiable sources are too mainstream, also said the following:

"Most people don't know that during his time at Duke, Miles Plumlee spent much of his time writing and making music. He's been working on this band and album for quite a while. He's going to take the indie folk world by storm--a bunch of bands you've probably never heard of are going to be taken aback by his talent."

The source also confirmed several reports that the band, which was earlier rumored to be named "Plumford & Suns" but was renamed in an effort to be more alternative, features a few other recognizable faces:


Greg Esposito of Suns.com uncovered this gem of a music video and its meaning: According to Dragic, the video is from a Slovenian comedian and impersonator named Klemen Slakonja … The guard...

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