Although there's still a very slight possibility that the Los Angeles Clippers could face the Dallas Mavericks or the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round beginning this weekend (the Thunder would have to lose at home to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday to enable that, which seems unlikely to say the least), the reality is that they are probably going to open the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors in a 3-6 matchup.
If that is the case, the Clippers task just got a lot easier, as it was announced tonight that Warriors center Andrew Bogut will miss the start of the postseason with a cracked rib. Bogut's work on defense this season probably doesn't get enough credit -- the Dubs are generally thought of as an offensive team and all the attention goes to the Splash Brothers, in particular Stephen Curry. But the reality is that the Warriors have the highest rated defense in the Western Conference, and that's largely due to the excellent work of Bogut.
The Clippers will be plenty relieved not to have to face Bogut for a few reasons. Not only do the Warriors lose their defensive anchor, but they also happen to be fairly thin in the front court. Without Bogut, they'll be dependent on Jermaine O'Neal, who will turn 107 during the postseason, and Marreese Speights, who frankly isn't very good. And then there's the fact that Bogut has a fondness for throwing random elbows and has been involved in more than one altercation with the Clippers this season, including the one Christmas Day when the Warriors targeted Blake Griffin for off the ball flagrant fouls and managed to get Griffin ejected (which the NBA later admitted was a mistake).
It's unclear exactly how long Bogut will be out, but it seems like that he'll miss the entire series with the Clippers. He doesn't intend to return until the cracked rib is fully healed, which should take about six weeks. Stranger things have happened, but as of now it seems like the big Aussie will be out of the first round.
Golden State remains a very scary opponent of course. Frankly, they're a wild card given Curry's tendency to go thermonuclear from time to time, especially against the Clippers. If Curry falls into one of his warg trances and makes everything he shoots, it won't matter who's playing center for the Warriors. But assuming that Curry is mortal at least part of the series, the Clippers should emerge from the first round, and with Bogut out, they may do so relatively unscathed.