First, the easy part. If the Memphis Grizzlies defeat the Suns in Phoenix tonight the Grizzlies clinch a playoff berth and the Suns are, well, officially set.
Memphis is currently 48-32; the Suns are 47-33. The Grizzlies hold the tiebreaker over the Suns, which would come into play (in the Grizzlies’ favor) in the event they lost at Phoenix and then both teams lost their final game of the season (the Grizzlies to Dallas and the Suns to Sacramento). If they both finish 48-34, the Grizzlies are in.
Got all that?
A win tonight over the Suns takes away pressure and just leaves possibility. The Dallas Mavericks-Grizzlies showdown is on Wednesday at FedExForum. If the Grizzlies beat the Suns, then the winner of the Memphis-Dallas game gets the 7 seed and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. The loser would get the 8 seed and the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
But the Grizzlies are not home-free yet, either.
Dallas has clinched a spot and has just the game in Memphis remaining. Should the Suns beat the Grizzlies and then the Kings with the Grizzlies then losing to the Mavs, the Suns would leap over Memphis with a 49-33 record. The Grizzlies and their 48-34 record then would be off to beaches and golf courses.
There is also an outside shot at moving up to 6 — the Grizzlies win both games and the Golden State Warriors lose to Minnesota and at Denver. Unlikely, but not impossible.
This season, seemingly nothing is impossible.