The Los Angeles Clippers are not going to earn the number one seed in the Western Conference Playoffs as that ship has more than sailed away now, but they have accomplished something they’ve never done in their franchise history. Sunday in Staples’ Center, the ‘other’ team in the City of Angels not only swept the season series with their roommates, the LA Lakers, but also won the team’s first division title since arriving in Los Angeles.
In clinching their first Pacific Division title, the Clippers also dealt a blow to the Lakers who slipped out of the eighth seed in the West. The Lakers are a half a game back of Utah right now with five games remaining. Chances are good the Lakers will somehow manage to get into the playoffs as David Stern would never allow otherwise….
This is about the Clippers though and deservedly so. LA will be one of five teams in the Western Conference to win 50 games or more this season and they’ve shown great maturity and growth in doing so. Do I believe the Clippers will come out of the West to challenge the Heat, errrrr, Eastern Conference Champion? No I do not, but that doesn’t dismiss them as a threat nor does it discount what they’ve done this season.
- Paul should garner serious MVP consideration although he won’t win it.
Led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers have not only continued their offensive prowess but they’ve also paid some attention to the defensive end as well. They are 4th in the NBA in points allowed with just 94.8 points per game and have rebounded the basketball better too. As of right now, the Clippers could play one of three teams in the first round of the playoffs. With roughly five games remaining for most NBA teams, the Clippers can expect to see the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies or Denver Nuggets in the opening round.
The Clips are 1-2 against Denver, 1-3 against Golden State and 2-1 with a game remaining against Memphis. That doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence heading into a seven-game series against any of those teams but the playoffs are a different animal.
Regardless of what happens with the Clippers in the playoffs, a division title has been a long-time coming and will be a step in the right direction. With the Lakers and Spurs aging, the next few years could mean bigger things for the Clippers in the Western Conference.
Games Coming Up Tonight With Playoff Implications
Washington at New York – The Knicks are going for 13 in a row but a win will also give them the outright Atlantic Division title. The bigger catch will be the second seed in the East. I love the Knicks at home tonight.
Oklahoma City at Utah – The Thunder are stinging from a rare home loss to the Knicks and are one game behind the Spurs for the top seed in the West. Utah is playing for its’ playoff life. In a tight game, the Thunder put a nail in Utah’s coffin.
New Orleans at LA Lakers – Kobe and company will know the outcome of the Utah game long before their game is over with and if that doesn’t serve as motivation for this team nothing will. Toss in the fact that New Orleans isn’t a real good team and you have a game the Lakers cannot lose. Take the Lakers tonight.
Toronto at Chicago – The Bulls need a win not so much to move up in the standings as they do to keep from falling. They are one and two and a half games ahead of Atlanta and Boston right now for the fifth spot. The Raptors will not be an easy out, but the Bulls win.