Amare Stoudemire is doing his part to help the Suns win the rest of their games and gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
(NBAE Photos)


There is no love lost between me and the numbers game, which makes this
final week of the NBA regular season a real terror for those of us who
dread the “yeah, but what if” discussions this time of year.

I can handle simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Percentages are somehow no problem, either. Sure, I never met a calculator I didn’t like (or use), but when it comes to permutations – calculating the possible combinations of anything – well, no device in existence could help me keep straight every possible scenario that the impending NBA postseason poses, especially where the Suns are concerned currently.

I know seeding has something to do with conference records. And home-court advantage in a playoff series is determined by win-loss records, and not seeding.

Okay, so far.

But thanks to the playoff logjam that is the Western Conference, that’s where my personal headaches begin.

“It’s crazy right now,” said Amaré Stoudemire after Monday’s win over Golden State. “Every team is playing well. There are four teams vying for the same record. The West is as tight as I’ve ever seen it. It’s good for the fans, but it’s pretty tough for us. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a tough Western Conference team we face in the playoffs. You just have to prepare yourselves as a team, get better and accept the challenge.”

Entering Monday’s game just one game behind fifth-seeded Houston and third-seeded San Antonio, and sporting the same record as No. 4 PMah (53-26), things looked more muddled than ever before tip-off for the Suns. Sure, the sixth seed was probable, yet Phoenix still had a shot of leapfrogging all the way up to a third seed.

So, if the playoffs started Monday, it would have meant another playoff showdown against the Spurs – this time in the Opening Round. With three regular season wins over San Antonio, Phoenix locked up the tiebreaker against the Spurs, who were to play the Kings Monday.

Desperately hoping to regain some sense of mental normalcy with some answers Monday night following a Suns win, a funny thing happened.


Admittedly, “nothing” isn’t exactly the basis for comedy (unless your last name happens to be Seinfeld), but I and the rest of the Suns’ fans were really no closer to solving anything in terms of what’s (or in this case, who’s) next.

Obviously, Phoenix still needs to gun for a win over Portland in the regular season finale Wednesday to have some semblance of control over their fate, but they will still have to keep one eye on the scoreboard, since Monday ended with the Suns in a tie with both Houston and PMah, and all three one game behind the Spurs, who ended up beating Sacramento. To close out the regular season, the Jazz (who took care of Houston Monday) get the Spurs, and the Rockets face the Clippers.

Phoenix could face Houston to start the playoffs, and could open here at US Airways Center against the Rockets this weekend. That’s if Phoenix, Houston and PMah all win on Wednesday, finishing in a three-way tie at 55-27, in which case the Suns would win the tie-breaker with the best winning percentage in all games among the tied teams.

If Phoenix loses to Portland on Wednesday or the Spurs beat the Jazz, then the Suns travel to San Antonio for Games 1 and 2 against their rivals. If both the Suns and Spurs lose Wednesday, then Phoenix could be headed to PMah this weekend. And the possibility of tipping things off vs. the Jazz in Salt Lake City where Jerry Sloan’s club is 36-4 this season isn’t particularly appealing, but that scenario is very much still alive, too.

And all of that, of course, is assuming I understand what I’m talking about. One thing is for sure, though. Wednesday can’t come fast enough. Some of us need closure.

And next year, I’m all in favor of racking up the best record in the league. It makes for many less headaches.

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