Phoenix Suns

NBA Playoffs 2021: What earning the No. 1 seed means for the Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns are now the No. 1 team in the Western Conference after beating the shorthanded Utah Jazz 121-100.

Devin Booker led the charge with 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting, while Mikal Bridges added 18 points and Chris Paul 12 points and nine assists.

"Those are tough games to play in emotionally," Suns coach Monty Williams said. "You're ramped up to play against the best team in the league and they sit a few guys, you can have a letdown. But we handled business tonight."

Now tied with the Jazz at 45-18, who played without Mike Conley Jr. and Donovan Mitchell, the Suns sit at the top of courtesy of owning the tiebreaker after winning all three meetings between the two teams this season.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Suns haven't taken their foot off the gas, winning 16 of their last 20 games, including an impressive stretch over their past seven games, where they went 5-2 in matchups against the Jazz, Clippers, Knicks, Nets, Celtics, 76ers and Bucks - the third toughest stretch in the NBA this season.

Phoenix is now 23-9 against teams above .500 - the best mark in the NBA.

What does the No. 1 seed mean for the Suns?

If the Suns can hang on to the No. 1 seed for the rest of the season, they'll guarantee homecourt advantage the whole way through the playoffs, where they've gone 25-9 this season, but will it guarantee an easier path through to the NBA Finals?

With the standings as they are as of Friday (ET), the Suns would take on the eighth seed in the first round, potentially avoiding a team like the Portland Trail Blazers, depending on the fallout of the Play-In tournament.

The second round, however, is where things get interesting. As the No.1 seed, they'd face the winner of the four-five matchup, which is currently either the Denver Nuggets or Los Angeles Lakers, hardly a prize for their success.

The Suns have won their two games against the Lakers this season, both without Anthony Davis and once without LeBron James, while going 1-2 against the Nuggets.

They would, however, avoid the No. 3 seed LA Clippers until the Western Conference Finals, who they hold a 1-2 record against in 2020-21.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the race for the No. 1 seed is by no means over and the Jazz will have a chance to get back on track, with a five-game homestand coming up, beginning with the Toronto Raptors, followed by back-to-back games against the San Antonio Spurs, before taking on the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets.

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