CLIPPERS POTENTIAL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
This story was updated 4/17/13 at 2:03 a.m. PDT to reflect most up-to-date scenarios.
It looks like very little in the Western Conference playoff race will be decided until the final buzzer sounds on Wednesday.
“It’s crazy that in the West, probably that last game of the season is when everybody knows who they’re going to play,” Chris Paul said after Monday’s final practice of the regular season.
The Clippers (55-26) clinched their second consecutive playoff berth on Mar. 22, and while they’ve won their first-ever Pacific Division title and tallied a franchise-record in wins, they could still play one of three teams when the playoffs open this weekend.
“All of these last handful of games have been playoff games, not just for us but for a lot of teams,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Clippers have one more pseudo playoff game this week after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers (33-48) Tuesday night in their regular-season home finale before flying north for what could be the final game in Sacramento Kings history. Still, with one more victory coupled with a Denver loss, the Clippers can still finish third in the West.
“It’s crazy that it is possible [to move up],” Griffin said. “But our main focus is ourselves. We can’t worry too much what Denver’s doing or what Memphis is doing. We have to take care of ourselves. If we take care of ourselves then we have home court and that’s what we need.
“If something else happens and teams lose and teams get switched around, then that’s great, too. We’ll be watching games obviously. Not to say that we don’t care because we do, but we need to care most about ourselves.”
Chauncey Billups, who has been to the conference finals seven times in his 16-year career, says maintaining at least home court advantage is a priority for the team.
“These are big games for us,” Billups said. “We haven’t secured home court yet… We can’t play down to the other teams’ record. They’re NBA players as well. Everybody that’s in the playoffs is looking to get better and if you’re not, you’re looking to spoil somebody. We’ve got to have that in mind.”
Here’s a look at some of the potential playoff scenarios that could unfold in the next 24 hours:
Note: Denver faces Phoenix in the Mile High City Wednesday. Memphis finishes off the regular season at home versus Utah about an hour before that.
If the Clippers win in Sacramento and the Nuggets lose to Phoenix, the Clippers will be the No. 3 seed and play either Golden State (currently No. 6) or Houston. The Rockets, who own the tiebreaker over the Warriors, lost to Phoenix Monday and are at the Lakers Wednesday. Golden State defeated the Spurs Monday and close the season at Portland Wednesday.
If the Clippers and Denver win their final game, the Clippers will be the No. 4 seed and host Memphis in Game 1, which would likely be played Saturday night at Staples Center. This scenario could also take place if Memphis and the Clippers both lose.
If the Clippers lose and Denver and Memphis win, the Clippers will be the No. 4 seed by name only (due to their division title), but will begin the opening round at Memphis.