In the NBA bubble, the race for No. 8 out West is quite wild

Full Screen
1 / 5

2020 Getty Images

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker shoots the game-winning basket over Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George (13) in an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Devin Booker does not like the notion that the Phoenix Suns, whose playoff chances were beyond slim when the season was suspended, should simply be happy to be in the NBA’s bubble.

He sees it quite differently.

“People can say we have a nothing-to-lose mentality,” Booker said. “We don’t look at it like that.”

Hard to argue. The Suns, like a lot of other teams out West, have much to play for right now.

The best race in the bubble is the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference — and the right to face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs starting in a couple weeks. The Lakers have already clinched the No. 1 seed, and now get to sit back and watch the mayhem that's about to happen.

Here’s the scenario: There are nine days left in the race, with six teams, all with five games remaining, fighting for one spot. It’s looking more and more likely that a play-in series, which will occur if the teams finishing eighth and ninth are within four games of one another when the regular season ends, will happen.

And Booker, who fended off both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on what became the winning jumper as time expired in Phoenix’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, has the Suns — who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010 — right in the thick of things.

“This whole experience, just being here in the bubble, we wanted to come down here and make some noise,” Booker said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”