Playoff Push Breakdown

Clippers Playoff Push: A View of the Final 26 Games

by Clippers Digital

Now that All-Star Weekend has come and gone, it’s back to business for teams across the NBA.

As of Thursday morning, 20 of the league's 30 teams are in legitimate playoff contention. In the Eastern Conference, Detroit is in the ninth spot, 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth spot. The next closest team is the Charlotte Hornets, currently sitting in 10th, a healthy 5.5 games behind Miami but not so far back that qualifying for the playoffs is out of the question.

Then, there’s the Western Conference, where things are a lot stickier.

San Antonio and Minnesota are currently in third and fourth, respectively. Oklahoma City is the fifth seed, followed by Denver in sixth, Portland in seventh and New Orleans in eighth. The Clippers are on the outside looking in, sitting in ninth. Behind them is Utah in 10th.

But that barely paints the picture.

San Antonio currently has 24 losses and Minnesota has 25. The next five teams – the Thunder, Nuggets, Blazers, Pelicans and Clippers – all have 26 losses. Utah has 28. Have a look at the current records of seeds 1-10:

1. Houston: 44-13
2. Golden State: 44-14
3. San Antonio: 35-24
4. Minnesota: 36-25
5. Oklahoma City: 33-26
6. Denver: 32-26
7. Portland: 32-26
8. New Orleans: 31-26
9. LA Clippers: 30-26
10. Utah: 30-28

Still…even that doesn’t paint the full picture. And if the Clippers want to make it into the postseason, they’ll need to be at their best over the last month and a half.

Here are some major points to keep in mind, as the Clippers make their final push for a playoff berth:

  • The Clippers have 26 games left in the regular season. Of those 26, 13 are at home and 13 are on the road.
  • The Clippers are 16-12 at home and 14-14 on the road this season. They have six back-to-back sets remaining on their schedule.
  • Of those 26 games, 18 are against teams that are currently in the top eight in their respective conferences. In addition, 19 are against teams with a record currently above .500.
  • Of the remaining 26 games, the Clippers will play 16 of them in March, the most games they will play in a single month this season.
  • The Clippers have remaining games against each of the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
    • Feb. 22 @ GSW (1-2 vs. Warriors this season)
    • Feb. 27 @ DEN (1-1)
    • Feb. 28 vs. HOU (2-0)
    • Mar. 6 vs. NOP (1-1)
    • Mar. 15 @ HOU
    • Mar. 16 @ OKC (0-2)
    • Mar. 18 vs. POR (1-1)
    • Mar. 20 @ MIN (0-3)
    • Mar. 30 @ POR
    • Apr. 3 vs. SAS (0-2)
    • Apr. 5 @ UTA (1-2)
    • Apr. 7 vs. DEN
    • Apr. 9 vs. NOP

Here are a few points about the Clippers opponents, those also vying for the final spots in the Western Conference playoffs:

UTAH

  • The Jazz are the hottest team in the league. They have won 11 straight games, and in that span, they own home wins over Golden State and San Antonio, and road wins against Toronto, San Antonio, Portland and New Orleans.
  • Over the last four games, Utah’s leading scorer, rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, is averaging 25.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
  • Before he was sidelined by a hip injury, guard Ricky Rubio was enjoying arguably the best streak of his career. From Jan. 24 to Feb. 7, during the first seven wins of Utah’s current win streak, Rubio was averaging 20.7 points, 7.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds.
  • The Jazz have 24 games left on their schedule, 14 of which will be played in Utah. They have four back-to-backs remaining.
  • Of those 24 games, 12 are against teams with records currently above .500.

NEW ORLEANS

  • The Pelicans have won their last three games, albeit against non-playoff teams in Brooklyn, Detroit and the Lakers.
  • Since center DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn Achilles, forward Anthony Davis has upped his game tremendously. In the last nine games, he’s averaging 31.3 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. In those nine games, he’s shooting 49 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line. Lastly, he’s scored 40+ points in three of the last seven games, and scored 38 points twice in the last seven games.
  • The Pelicans have 25 games left on their schedule, 14 of which will be played in New Orleans. They have six back-to-back sets remaining, including one back-to-back-to-back on March 20-22, due to a rescheduled game against Indiana on Wednesday, March 21.
  • Of those 25 games, 17 are against teams with records currently above .500.

PORTLAND

  • The Blazers have been up and down as of late, but they have won seven of their last 11, including three of their last four. They are coming off a 123-117 win over Golden State last Wednesday, in which guard Damian Lillard scored 44 points.
  • In the month of February, Lillard is averaging 32.0 points and 6.7 assists in eight games. Over the last three games, he is averaging 44.3 points.
  • The Blazers have 24 games left on their schedule, 13 of which will be played in Portland. They have four back-to-back sets remaining.
  • Of those 24 games, 16 are against teams with records currently above .500.

DENVER

  • The Nuggets have been hot as of late, having won six of their last seven heading into the All-Star Break. Their lone loss during that stretch came at the hands of the Rockets in Houston, the NBA’s best team.
  • The emergence of third-year center Nikola Jokic has proved vital to Denver this season. In the month of February, Jokic is averaging 21.6 points, 11.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists in seven games. He is also shooting 56.4 percent from the field and 89 percent from the free throw line so far this month.
  • The Nuggets have 24 games left on their schedule, 13 of which will be played on the road. They have three back-to-back sets remaining.
  • Of those 24 games, 16 are against teams with records currently above .500.

OKLAHOMA CITY

  • The Thunder are slumping, coming off a scorching hot January, in which they won 10 of 14 games. Over the last nine games, OKC is 3-6.
  • Guard Paul George has been among the hottest players in the NBA in February. He is averaging 29.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.5 steals over the past eight games. He is also shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from three in that time span.
  • The Thunder have 23 games left on their schedule, 12 of which will be played on the road. They have three back-to-back sets remaining.
  • Of those 23 games, 15 are against teams with records currently above .500.

MINNESOTA

  • The Wolves are a .500 team over their last 10 games. However, they have lost three of their last five games.
  • Guard Jimmy Butler, in his first season with the Wolves, has made all the difference for a talented roster that many felt lacked a leader. In seven February games, Butler is averaging 26.9 points on 48.8 percent shooting, to go along with 5.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals.
  • The Wolves have 21 games left on their schedule, 11 of which will be played on the road. They have four back-to-back sets remaining.
  • Of those 21 games, 13 are against teams with records currently above .500.

SAN ANTONIO

  • The Spurs have lost five of their last six, including three straight, which now places them in a dogfight for playoff seeding over the final two months of the season.
  • San Antonio is still without superstar forward Kawhi Leonard, who has only played nine games this season due to a quad injury. According to reports, Leonard is expected to return before the end of the regular season.
  • The Spurs have 23 games left on their schedule, 13 of which will be played in San Antonio. They have two back-to-back sets remaining.
  • Of those 23 games, 19 are against teams with records currently above .500.

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