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Clippings: The playoff field is almost set

The Clippers get a week to prep for a rematch of last year’s first round.

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LA Clippers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Western Conference playoff field is almost set, and the Clippers have the matchup that they wanted, if we are to learn anything from the way they approached the final two games of the regular season. It’s hard to believe that the Clippers would put the ball in the hands of Daniel Oturu on the final possession if they were trying to win against Oklahoma City, with all due respect to the rookie center.

Whatever the Clippers hoped would happen at the end of the regular season, the result is that their first-round foe is once again the Dallas Mavericks, who took the season series 2-1 from LA after losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Clippers 4-2 in the NBA bubble. The principals in this series are largely similar to a year ago, other than Doc Rivers and Seth Curry, who have both moved on to Philadelphia. For the Clippers, the main difference comes off the bench, where their reserve core is almost entirely changed other than Reggie Jackson. Dallas hopes the main difference in its favor is a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, who missed the final three games of the 2020 series with a knee injury after also being ejected in game one.

The rest of the West field has familiar faces, but probably in an inverted order from what people would have expected at the start of the season. Utah finished the season with the best record in the NBA for the first time in franchise history. The Jazz are closely trailed by old friend Chris Paul and Phoenix, and then Denver, who managed to hold on to the third seed despite losing Jamal Murray to an ACL injury.

Portland earned the last guaranteed playoff berth in the West and will face the Nuggets in the only postseason matchup that has been in this conference. The play-in will be contested by the Lakers, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Spurs, with the former two heavy favorites to advance and play Utah/Phoenix.

There really aren’t any easy outs in this playoff bracket, but the Clippers certainly seemed like they were positioning themselves strategically. We’ll see how it plays out soon enough.

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