If the NBA season ended today, the Phoenix Suns would snag the eighth seed in the Western Conference, leaving poor Oklahoma City and New Orleans on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Suns still have 29 games left to play, and find themselves in a precarious position up only one game on the Pelicans, and two games on the Thunder (the Thunder own the tie-breaker over the Suns as well). Of course, life in Phoenix would be a whole lot easier if the Suns didn’t land on the wrong side of a handful of buzzer-beaters.
Sunday night, DeMarcus Cousins became the latest crunch time assassin, hitting a a game-winning shot that bounced around the rim a few times before going in. He was the fourth player this season to hit a shot with no time left on the clock, and the fifth to hit a game-winner with less than five seconds to play. Boogie’s shot followed in the footsteps of Blake Griffin’s game-winning three that hit the top of the backboard, Khris Middleton’s bank shot three that rolled around, James Harden’s nasty step-back, and Jeff Green’s put-back that led to a three-point play and a one-point loss.
Twice, the Suns were tied with their opponent, so there was no guarantee of winning had the shots missed. But, had they managed to win the three games where they had the lead in the final moments, we’re talking a four or five-game lead in the playoff race, as opposed to the razor-thin predicament they currently find themselves in. Last year, they fell one game short of the playoffs. This year will be just as tight.