CLIPPERS CLINCH THIRD CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF BERTH

HOUSTON – All season the Clippers and Doc Rivers have said everything they do is part of the process of preparing for next month’s Playoffs.

Now, that preparation officially leads to the postseason.

The Clippers (52-22) clinched a berth in 2014 Playoffs with a 118-107 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at Toyota Center. It is a Clipper-record third consecutive postseason appearance for a team that until 2011-12 had made the Playoffs once in more than a decade and a half.

But since Chris Paul joined Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in Los Angeles, the Clippers have become a perennial contender. Their 148 victories over the past two-plus seasons is the fourth most in the NBA. They are on track for a second consecutive Pacific Division crown and have become one of the league’s most prolific draws away from home, ranking in the league’s top 10 in road attendance each of the last three seasons.

But with the arrival of Rivers this summer, the Clippers were widely considered more than just a threat to advance in the Playoffs. The national perception advanced to them being one of a handful of teams with a shot to win a championship.

Rivers’ championship process began in San Diego where the team spent a week of training camp and has continued through a season that has included injuries, an 11-game winning streak and the addition of three new players since Jan. 17.

And they seem to be playing some of their best basketball at the right time. Their win in Houston was the 21st road victory and they have won 15 of their last 17 games. 

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