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Clippings: The Clippers know what’s at stake

Playoff seeding isn’t the goal; the Clippers are in it to win it.

Los Angeles Clippers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

The Clippers officially locked in their playoff seeding Wednesday, but listening to the team talk after the game, it was clear that this group has much loftier goals.

“Just happy we were able to make it to the playoffs, right now it doesn’t seem like seeds matter,” Kawhi Leonard said postgame. “We’re still in the journey. We just got to keep enjoying each day and the process.”

It’s funny, I didn’t mention that we secured the 2 seed,” Doc Rivers added. “I don’t think anybody in the locker room talked about it. We really don’t care. Like, we want to win it all. We got to improve as a team. We know that. We have work to do. But we’re going to the playoffs with that mindset. That’s the only thing that matters right now for us.”

To be fair, Rivers has been dismissive of playoff seeding even before the pandemic ruined the concept of homecourt advantage. He has consistently said that having a healthy, rested team is more important than any particular matchup.

Health has proved a little more elusive than a high seed. The Clippers were without Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, and Landry Shamet in the game against Denver. Harrell could be back as soon as Friday’s contest against Oklahoma City after finishing his self-isolation, but Rivers was unsure if Beverley and Shamet would even be ready for the start of the postseason next week.

That’s the only concern the Clippers really have moving forward. They’ve shown the ability to execute when they need to during the seeding games; it’s just a matter of being able to put that together for 48 minutes, which will be easier when the team has its full complement of healthy players.

“We know what’s at stake,” Paul George said. “We know what we here for. We’re a team that’s here and has the opportunity to win it. We’re a team that’s focusing on getting deep into the playoffs. That’s the only thing we talk about.”

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