The LA Clippers are adamant that they don’t care about playoff positioning, and considering they have a winning record (or at least positive point differential) against all of the other teams in the West, their confidence is well-earned.
That being said, it would behoove the Clippers to stay out of the morass that is the No. 3 through No. 6 seeds in the West right now to avoid an unnecessarily challenging early playoff matchup. After Thursday’s results, they are pretty close to accomplishing that goal. With the win over Dallas and Denver’s loss to Portland, the Clippers now sit 1.5 games ahead of the Nuggets. Their magic number for the second seed (meaning a combination of Clippers wins and Nuggets losses) is three, which can be achieved by beating Denver in the team’s final meeting and winning one more game.
The No. 2 seed would insure that the Clippers play Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, a matchup that has proven quite successful for LA in three iterations thus far. The next goal would probably be to avoid the Houston Rockets until the conference finals by making sure the Rockets stay in the 4/5 position. The Clippers could have a direct effect on that seeding in their final game of the season against Oklahoma City, since the Thunder are also in that 3-6 mix.
Playing puppet master to the other teams in the West is likely the least of LA’s concerns — Doc Rivers regularly says that he doesn’t even look at standings during the regular season — but it’s fun to think of how the Clippers could control their own destiny, and make things challenging for their rivals in the West.
More news for Friday:
- Chris Haynes announced on TNT that Montrezl Harrell will be returning to the bubble shortly after his grandmother’s funeral on Saturday, after which he will have to self-isolate for four days before rejoining the team. It goes without saying that there should be no rush for Harrell to come back. He should take all the time he needs to spend with his family.
- We’re about halfway though the seeding games, and ESPN has picked its all-Bubble team and a set of breakout players.
- Paolo Uggetti looks at how players are adjusting to the oddities of bubble basketball.
- Kevin Durant isn’t in the bubble, but he still has thoughts on this season, and he’s picking the Clippers to win the NBA Finals.
- Doc Rivers called President Trump’s comments about players kneeling during the anthem “disgraceful.”