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Suns Clinch 1st Playoff Spot Since 2010; Latest 2021 Standings, Playoff Picture

Matt York/Associated PressThe Phoenix Suns are heading back to the postseason for the first time since 2010 with a 109-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.Phoenix Suns @SunsThe Suns have clinched a spot in the 2021 @NBA Playoffs   Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we’re back to work   #RallyTheValley 🤝 @Ticketmaster @Verizon @FanDuel…

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Matt York/Associated Press

The Phoenix Suns are heading back to the postseason for the first time since 2010 with a 109-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Phoenix Suns @Suns

The Suns have clinched a spot in the 2021 @NBA Playoffs
 
Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we’re back to work
 
#RallyTheValley

🤝 @Ticketmaster @Verizon @FanDuel @MichelobULTRA https://t.co/erV0SYZdDv

Here’s a look at the latest Western Conference standings and playoff picture following the Suns’ win.

Western Conference Standings

1. Utah Jazz: 45-17

2. Phoenix Suns: 44-18

3. Los Angeles Clippers: 43-21

4. Denver Nuggets: 41-21

5. Los Angeles Lakers: 36-26

6. Dallas Mavericks: 34-27

7. Portland Trail Blazers: 34-28

8. Memphis Grizzlies: 31-30

9. San Antonio Spurs: 31-30

10. Golden State Warriors: 31-31

11. New Orleans Pelicans: 27-35

12. Sacramento Kings: 25-37

13. Oklahoma City Thunder: 21-41

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: 19-44

15. Houston Rockets: 15-47

Western Conference Play-In If Season Ended Wednesday

Play-in Game 1: No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies at No. 7 Portland Trail Blazers (winner would play No. 2 Phoenix Suns)

Play-in Game 2: No. 10 Golden State Warriors at No. 9 San Antonio Spurs (loser eliminated)

Play-in Game 3: Game 2 winner at Game 1 loser (winner would play No. 1 Utah Jazz)

Western Conference: Round 1

No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies, No. 9 San Antonio Spurs or No. 10 Golden State Warriors

No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Portland Trail Blazers, No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies or No. 9 San Antonio Spurs

No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 6 Dallas Mavericks

No. 4 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Lakers

After just missing out on the playoffs despite going on an eight-game winning streak inside the NBA bubble last year, the Suns returned in 2020-21 with a motivated roster, plenty to prove and a new point guard to help them reach the next level.

The addition of Chris Paul via preseason trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder proved to be the missing piece in Phoenix. At age 35, Paul put up numbers that had him in the MVP conversation, averaging 16.1 points, 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals entering Wednesday.

That took pressure off the likes of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton and helped the club deftly navigate a stacked Western Conference.

The Suns are the fourth team to clinch a playoff berth this postseason. They join the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz with tickets booked.

There’s no denying how impressive a feat the Suns pulled off. In a Pacific Division featuring the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, it was Phoenix separating itself from the pack early on this season and continually showing just how much its young players have grown.

Now those players take on a new challenge with the postseason around the corner.

The Suns haven’t lost in the first round since a 4-1 series blowout to the San Antonio Spurs in 2008.

Phoenix’s Big Three of Paul, Ayton and Booker will look to prove themselves up to the task just as soon as the field is set and the Suns learn who they’ll play.

Until then, the Suns will keep wearing down the Western Conference while resting up for the bigger task ahead.

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