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Features

On the Lookout: Suns challenge Jazz for the No. 1 seed

April 30, 2021, 6:00 PM ● Chuck Araneta

After clinching a playoff spot for the first time in 11 years, the Suns now have a chance to move up to No. 1 in the standings as they face the Jazz.

It’s a tussle between Western Conference leaders as the Utah Jazz tangle with the playoff-bound Phoenix Suns beginning at 10:00 AM live on NBA League Pass!

At the top of the standings for almost the entire season, the Jazz now have the Phoenix Suns breathing down their neck, as their lead has shrunk to only one game. At 45-17, Utah will need a big win in order to stop the rampaging Suns from improving on their 44-18 record at their expense.

What complicates matters further for Utah is that a Suns win would not only make them share the No. 1 spot in the standings, it would give Phoenix the tiebreaker advantage in the event that they end up with identical records. It’s clear that high stakes are on the line. 

The Suns have reasons to celebrate far beyond their record. They are only the second team in the West to qualify for the playoffs at this juncture. This will be their first playoff appearance in 11 years or since the time when Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire were running pick-and-rolls and creating offense in seven seconds or less. Now, it’s been the dynamic duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker who are running the show, making Phoenix one of the best stories in the NBA this season.

"I know who I am,” Paul said about his impact on the young team. “I knew coming to this situation, I knew who Book [Booker] was. He told me about some of the guys on the team.”

Those guys together have made the Suns a consistently terrifying and potent offensive machine that now has a closer in the clutch. Paul has been fearless in handling and sharing responsibilities with Booker to make the big shots, and this has led them to one of their best seasons in franchise history.

Meanwhile, it’s been the same type of season for the Jazz, putting together the kind of performance that would make them contenders, especially with all the injuries happening to teams around them. 

The Jazz still lean heavily on Donovan Mitchell – who’s currently out with an ankle injury – and Rudy Gobert, but Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson and steady veteran Joe Ingles have helped transform the Jazz into one of the most diverse squads in the league.

It’s a must-see Saturday morning showdown. Can the Jazz hold on to the top seed or will the Suns shine brightly and continue their streak?