Clippers Vs. Suns: Phoenix Fighting For Its Playoff Life

March 28, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Phoenix Suns small forward Jared Dudley (3) defends Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (3) during the first quarter of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns have a tough road to the playoffs, but a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday would get them right back into the race for the final two spots in the West.

Due to a combination of meaningful games and a desire for networks to fill late-night programming slots, the Phoenix Suns' last four regular season games are all on national television. They start that run of four games on Thursday night, when they take on the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

Phoenix is currently a half game out of the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot, and their last four games are brutal. They play two teams who have clinched playoff berths in the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs. They also face two of their direct rivals for playoff spots, the Denver Nuggets and the Utah Jazz.

Based on their recent success or lack thereof against solid teams, things don't look great for the Suns during this run. They're 2-3 over their last five games, with both wins coming against non-playoff teams and all three losses coming against teams who have already clinched places in the postseason. The Clippers are on a five-game winning streak, they're still fighting for a Pacific Division title, and they're coming off a road win in Denver on Wednesday night.

Phoenix has been without Grant Hill for the last three games due to a knee injury, and he's a game time decision for Thursday night's contest. Jared Dudley has played extended minutes in his absence and has been very impressive, but Markieff Morris and Josh Childress have not raised their games, and Hill's presence has been very much missed.

For more on the two teams, head over to Clippers blog Clips Nation and Suns blog Bright Side of the Sun.

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