Game Preview: Clippers host Denver, as both teams angle for playoff spots
The Clippers are no longer just looking to make it to the playoffs.
They’re looking to move up the playoff ladder.
The Clippers (22-21) will play host to the Denver Nuggets (23-21) on Wednesday, with L.A. looking to extend a season-high five-game win streak and further solidify itself in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Coming into Tuesday, the Clippers sat in the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff picture, with Denver sitting in the eighth spot and Portland in the ninth spot. However, both the Nuggets and Blazers played (and won) on Tuesday night. Entering Wednesday, the Clippers are now in the ninth slot right behind Denver and Portland.
The Clippers – now a half game out of the seventh and eighth seed, and one game out of the sixth seed – can reenter the top eight spots with a win over the Nuggets on Wednesday, in the two teams’ first matchup of the season.
Monday’s performance – a 113-102 win over Houston – made it clear that this Clippers team is ready to fight tooth and nail for each win as the season progresses. Despite some chippy play amid the return of former Clippers point guard Chris Paul, L.A. never lost focus, outscoring the Rockets in each of the last three quarters and holding the potent Houston offense to 18 points in the final frame.
Clippers guard Lou Williams, who was named Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the second time in three weeks, led the way with 31 points and 9 assists. He has scored 20 or more points in 13 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
But in terms of leading the way emotionally, Clippers forward Blake Griffin was the catalyst.
In a spirited performance, Griffin put up 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. He scored 19 of his 29 in the second half, highlighted by a brief one-on-one matchup with Paul with a little over 3 minutes left in the game that resulted in a bucket, plus a foul for Griffin.
The Nuggets are 4-6 over their last 10 games. They hosted and defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, 105-102, despite carrying an 86-69 lead into the fourth quarter.
Denver, which is an impressive 16-5 on its home floor, has struggled on the road, carrying a 7-16 record away from the Pepsi Center.
Wednesday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. at STAPLES Center.