|SB Nation||Drew Garrison||5||0||The final team in the top five wasn't easy to pick, but the Clippers have been too good to ignore. They've spent the majority of the season trailing only the Warriors in offensive and defensive efficiency. Los Angeles has lost just two games since Blake Griffin returned on March 15 and is 9-1 over its last 10 games.|
|ESPN||Marc Stein||4||0||Who believes in the Clips? Not sure there's anyone backing them with more gusto than our pals at numberFire.com, who as of Monday give L.A. no less than a 12.8-percent shot to win it all ... ahead of Atlanta, San Antonio and Cleveland and second only to Golden State's 36.45 percent.|
|CBS Sports||Matt Moore||4||+2||The win vs. Memphis on Saturday concerned me. A big playoff-implications game vs. the Grizzlies on a back-to-back, on the road, without three of their best players, and the Clippers had to scrape by? Maybe it's a good sign they found the grit to win. But they should have blown Memphis out.|
|Yahoo!||Marc Spears||4||+1||The Clippers are rounding into shape, having won five straight and nine of 10.|
|NBA.com||David Aldridge||5||+1||J.J. Redick playing some of the best basketball of his career.|
|NBA.com||John Schuhmann||5||0||The Clippers are 12-2 since Blake Griffin's return and rank as an above-average defense for the first time since Christmas. Despite Griffin's absence for 15 games, their starting lineup has played almost 300 more minutes than any lineup in the league, and has been dominant. But their dreadful bench will need to step up at some point in the postseason.|
|Sports Illustrated||Matt Dollinger||4||0||The return of Jamal Crawford helps the Clippers in a number of ways, but the most important one might be the reduced role of Austin Rivers. The Clippers score a whopping 13.8 points more per 100 possessions when Rivers is on the bench.|
|USA Today||Conglomerate||3||+3||Chris Paul's outstanding play this season should've made him an MVP candidate.|
League Average Rankings
|1||Golden State Warriors||1.1|
|2||San Antonio Spurs||2.4|
|5||Los Angeles Clippers||4.3|
|8||Portland Trail Blazers||8.0|
Feature Writeup of the Week
In his final power rankings of the season, Matt Moore also listed his top ten teams for the year by average weekly ranking; the Clippers came eighth.
8. Their inconsistency drove me nuts, but the way Doc Rivers kept this team together and piled up wins despite the failings of Doc Rivers in the front office was crazy.
|Margin of Victory||+6.53||2nd|
|Simple Rating System||6.79||2nd|
|Strength of Schedule||.513||T-2nd|
The Spurs are either just behind or just ahead of the Clippers in a number of metrics now, thanks to their superlative post-ASB performance (winning in 21 out of their last 24 games). It seems like things are lining up very similarly to last year for the Clippers. Provided they win their last two games, they'll likely end up with the #3 seed, the same result achieved by last year's 57-25 squad.
Could they once again face a heated rival in the first round, one that's banged up with injuries to key players? A team that's much better than a sixth seed, but fell that far due to extenuating circumstances (chronic underachieving, or a combination of injuries and competition)? And if they win their first-round series again, are they really going to have to play what might be the second-best team in the league, in the second round, on the road... again?
I'm probably jinxing myself and this team by simply uttering these words, but... surely nothing can go worse than last year, right? There's no way a racist owner or horrific screwjob happens again... right?
1. Golden State Warriors
2. San Antonio Spurs
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Atlanta Hawks
6. Memphis Grizzlies
7. Houston Rockets
8. Boston Celtics
9. Utah Jazz
10. Dallas Mavericks