The top seed in the West is officially out of reach for the LA Clippers.
The Los Angeles Lakers secured the top record in the NBA’s Western Conference yesterday after claiming a 116-108 victory over the Utah Jazz. The win dashed any hopes the LA Clippers had of overtaking the Lakers for the top seed in the conference for the playoffs.
The Clippers hold a game-and-a-half lead on the Denver Nuggets for the second spot in the conference with six games left on their seeding-game schedule. The two teams will clash in an important match-up on Wednesday, August 12 in the Clippers penultimate seeding game.
Playoff paths still up in the air.
While the Lakers may have secured the top spot in the West, their playoff picture isn’t any clearer than it was before yesterday. The Memphis Grizzlies still hold onto the eight seed in the conference, with the Portland Trail Blazers a mere two games behind them in the ninth seed. With the new play-in tournament a factor, if the Blazers keep pace, they will force a nine vs. eight play-in with the Grizzlies where the Blazers could make the playoffs if they defeat the Grizzlies twice. Memphis would only have to win one game to keep their spot in the playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs and the New Orleans Pelicans are right behind the Blazers for the nine seed and potential spot in the play-in tournament. The Spurs are coming off a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday while the Pelicans made up ground by defeating the Grizzlies 109-99.
The Clippers’ opponent for the opening round isn’t set in stone just yet. If things hold as they currently stand they will face the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the playoffs. The Mavericks are two-and-a-half games behind the sixth seed Oklahoma City Thunder, whom the Clippers would face if they fall behind the Nuggets in the standings.
Matchups most important for playoffs.
With home-court advantage not a factor in the Orlando bubble, matchups will be the most important thing for teams in this year’s NBA playoffs. The Clippers are 2-0 so far against the Mavericks this season, with a third match-up set for Thursday, August 6. The team is 2-1 against the Thunder, with a fourth match-up set for their final seeding game before the playoffs on Friday, August 14.
Whether the Clippers hold onto the second seed or fall to number three they will avoid the Lakers half of the playoff bracket and not have to face their biggest Western Conference rival until the conference finals.
Ultimately, the Clippers have both the talent and depth to match-up against any team in the NBA regardless of seeding or home-court advantage. Their focus should remain on staying healthy, getting back to NBA speed, and honing their rotations for what they hope to be a long run through the playoffs.