There's a great post on Mavs Moneyball today that goes through pretty much every scenario for various teams to earn the 2 seed in the playoffs. Mavericks fans of course care about the 2 seed because Dallas is locked into the 7 seed, so the 2 seed will be their first round opponent.
The author, Tim Cato, has the same understanding of the Southwest Division three way tie scenario that I have -- Spurs take the head-to-head-to-head tie breaker which will give them the Division title, and with it the 2 seed. So there's that. I'm still not ruling out the possibility that Tim and I are both parsing the rules wrong, but that remains my understanding of the three way tie scenario. The Clippers would get the 3 seed in that case, provided they two were in that tie, which remains a very strong possibility.
For the Clippers, a high seed hinges on a win over the Grizzlies tonight, and the stakes are pretty damn high. A loss would drop them to the six seed for the time being, and they'd stay there unless they got help from one of the other teams. Bottom line for the Clippers -- a win tonight almost certainly means home court advantage in the first round, while a loss could very well mean starting the playoffs on the road.
The other thing the Clippers would like would be to avoid the Spurs, either in the first round, or playing a second seeded Spurs team without home court in the conference semis. The only way the Clippers face the Spurs in the first round is if LA finishes third (their most likely landing spot) while the Spurs drop to the sixth seed. It is unlikely at this point that the Spurs will fall to six, but you never know with Gregg Popovich, who could decide to rest his starters in one or both of their final two games.
But if the Spurs win the Southwest and with it the 2 seed, then LA as the 3 seed would have to go through the Alamo City just to reach the conference finals. So what's a citizen of Clips Nation to do? Root against the Rockets and for the Grizzlies (after tonight of course).
The Clippers can conceivably reach the 2 seed, but as Cato points out, it hinges on the Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies each losing at least one more game after tonight, which seems highly unlikely.
But another great outcome (some might even say better) would be for the Clippers to take the 3 seed with the Spurs in the 5 seed. Here's the shortest path to that outcome: Clippers win out, including over the Grizzlies tonight; Grzzlies win out after that; Spurs win out; Rockets lose one or more games.
Why the Grizzlies and not the Rockets? Because Memphis owns the tie-breaker over the Spurs, but the Spurs own the tie-breaker over the Rockets. So assuming that it's futile to expect the Spurs to stumble, the next best thing is for the Rockets to lose one or more.
If all goes according to my plan, it would give Memphis the Southwest via their head-to-head tie-breaker over the Spurs. San Antonio would drop to 5, putting them on the other side of the bracket from the Clippers, and setting up Spurs-Warriors showdown in the second round. The Clippers would have to go through Memphis to get to the WCF, but scary as that is, it's far less daunting than the San Antonio route. Oh and by the way, if you were mad at Gordon Hayward for missing that free throw last night in Utah, realize that he may have done you a favor in the long run.
So you have your instructions: always root for the Clippers, always root against the Rockets (which is easy to do), and then (here's the hard part) root for the Grizzlies in their last two games.