Tonight, the LA Clippers face the Denver Nuggets on ESPN in their third and final matchup of the regular season. The teams have split the season series at one game apiece, so tonight’s contest will decide the season series winner. It will potentially decide a lot more than that, however.
The LA Clippers cannot afford to lose tonight to the Denver Nuggets and drop to fourth place in the Western Conference.
As it stands right now, the Clippers and Nuggets are tied in the loss column with 21 apiece. A loss tonight for the Clippers would not only give the Nuggets the season series tiebreaker but would also drop them down into fourth place in the West. That’s a problem.
If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Clippers would be facing the Lakers in a first round battle of LA series. LeBron James just returned for the Lakers last night and Anthony Davis has been back for a few games now. Call me crazy, but I don’t particularly want to face that in the first round.
Given how tight the West is, there is still potential that the Lakers drop back to the sixth seed meaning the Clippers would still get them in the first round even if they take care of business against the Nuggets. Still, all the Clips can do is focus on themselves and do what needs to be done.
Luckily, Kawhi Leonard may be available tonight after being upgraded to “questionable”. While that doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of hope, it is an improvement from his doubtful prognosis(which ultimately became an out) last game.
While having Leonard back tonight would obviously be great for this single game, the team also needs to focus on getting their guys back and on the court to build up some chemistry before the season ends. Having the benefit of both getting time with Kawhi on the court and having the extra firepower to help win against Denver would be awesome.
Regardless of if Kawhi plays tonight, Paul George and the rest of the team need to give this game their all. They cannot afford to drop to fourth and with not another game until Tuesday, they can go all in tonight.