The Clippers probably wasted their best chance of catching the Suns for the second seed in the Western Conference after losing in Phoenix Wednesday. That means a top-two seed is likely unreasonable, though Ty Lue said it might even be a disadvantage to be in that position since you have to wait until the end of the play-in to know your first-round opponent. Gamesmanship, to be sure.
Per FiveThirtyEight, the most probable landing spot for the Clippers is the No. 3 seed since they are three losses behind the Suns with eight games to play. However, Denver is right on their toes, tied at 21 losses with the opportunity to earn the tiebreaker on Saturday when the Nuggets come to Los Angeles.
Here are the two teams’ remaining schedules:
Clippers: Nuggets, Raptors, Lakers, Knicks, @Raptors, @Hornets, @Rockets, @Thunder
Nuggets: Raptors, @Clippers, @Lakers, Knicks, @Jazz, Nets, @Hornets, @Timberwolves, @Pistons, @Trail Blazers
It’s going to be tough for Denver to hold off the Clippers given the difficulty of their remaining games. First off, the Nuggets have to play 10 games compared to eight for the Clippers. They also have to play the Jazz and the Nets in those extra two, currently the best teams in each conference.
What’s interesting is that the fifth and sixth seeds are also in flux, and neither of the potential options are particularly agreeable. Either the Clippers would face the Mavericks, who gave the Clippers a scare in the first round last year and won the season series in 2020-21, or they’d get the Lakers, the defending champions. Admittedly, the Lakers do not appear as threatening as last year, since LeBron James and Anthony Davis haven’t played a game together since Feb. 14, and it would be ideal to play them earlier than later, but those are tough opponents.
The Clippers claim they aren’t standings watching, but it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to root for the Blazers to move up ahead of the Lakers or Dallas.
More news for Thursday:
- The way Owen Phillips presents data is so aesthetically pleasing. Check out his charts on clutch time and injuries.
- The Clippers have signed three players to 10-day contracts this year. As Paolo Uggetti details, the 10-day odyssey has been particularly weird during the pandemic.
- John Hollinger shares his best international prospects for the upcoming draft.
- Apparently, there’s something up with Paul George and Chris Paul.
- This stat kind of blows my mind.
Clippers are the first team to get to 64 games this season.— Law Murray ✨ (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 29, 2021
The 16-game splits from beginning of season to now: 12-4, 10-6, 10-6, 11-5.
Those same first four 16-game splits last season: 11-5, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5.