The NBA regular season resumed last night, which means its time to start thinking about the stretch run of the season in earnest. The Clippers will not play until tomorrow afternoon, a fortunate occurrence for a team that is nursing injuries to two key players. Every day that Paul George and Patrick Beverley are able to heal up and rest is a blessing for the Clips, who need both starters at 100% if they’re to make a run at a championship. However, if both those guys continue to miss games, the Clippers’ postseason positioning could be damaged. Here’s a brief look at the standings at the top of the West right now, along with strength of remaining schedule (SOS) and home and away games remaining.

TeamsRecordSOSHome GamesAway Games
Lakers41-120.4871613
Nuggets38-170.5171314
Clippers37-180.4771413
Jazz36-180.5021612
Rockets34-200.4771414
Thunder33-220.5121215
Mavericks33-220.4951215

The Clippers are six losses behind the Lakers, who are healthy, and have a home-heavy schedule the rest of the way. It is highly unlikely they catch the Lakers barring an injury to Anthony Davis or LeBron James, especially with George and Beverley still on the shelf and Kawhi Leonard load managing games. However, catching the Lakers doesn’t matter all that much – the Lakers would have homecourt advantage in any series against the Clippers regardless of seeding, so placing ahead of them in the standings wouldn’t matter in a head-to-head series. Now, facing whoever is in the 8th seed instead of one of the top seven teams (who are all clearly far ahead of the rest of the pack) would be a boon, but it’s not as important for a Clippers team that prides itself on being a championship contender.

The Clippers could, on the other hand, catch the Nuggets. Denver is just a half game ahead of LAC at the moment, and have a slightly tougher schedule the rest of the way. If Beverley comes back soon, and George doesn’t miss *too* much more time, the Clippers could absolutely make a run at the 2 seed. The issue, of course, is that the teams behind them won’t be idle either. The Jazz are just a stone’s throw away from the Clippers and have frequently made runs down the stretch in recent years, while the Rockets have been surging lately behind their reshaped roster and increased focus on small-ball. The Clippers have a bit more breathing room over Dallas and Oklahoma City, but a top-five seed is far less comfortable than a top-two or even top-three placement would be.

That’s because, of course, the Jazz and Rockets are more threatening than the Mavs or Thunder by a considerable margin. All credit to both those teams, who are very good and having extremely entertaining seasons, but neither matches up well with the Clips. The Clippers have beaten the Mavs several times this year, mostly because they have several capable wing defenders to throw at Luka Doncic and are unafraid (rightly so) of his supporting cast. The Thunder feature several former Clippers and are highly talented, but their roster is thin, and their best lineup is a three-guard unit that would be greatly undersized against the Clippers wings.

The Jazz have several large, capable wing defenders to put on Kawhi and Paul George, and Rudy Gobert is a major deterrent at the rim. The Clippers don’t have a truly devastating high pick-and-roll threat (ala Steph Curry or Damian Lillard), which is the best way to attack Gobert, and he’s dominated them several times over the years. The Rockets might not have size to punish the Clippers anymore, but their small lineups are devastatingly effective on offense, and if they happen to catch fire over a series could spell doom for any team, even if their defense is leaky. The Clippers are fully capable of beating both teams, but should try to avoid them in the first round if at all possible.

Getting a two or three seed also keeps the Clippers away from the Lakers, their greatest threat, until the Western Conference Finals. The more chances that other teams have to beat the Lakers, the better; while beating the Lakers en route to a championship would be extremely satisfying for Clippers fans, avoiding them entirely would be the smoothest path to the Finals. Essentially, the Clippers are likely to finish somewhere in the 2-5 range in the Western Conference. If possible, they should attempt to get the 2nd or 3rd seed, both to stay out of the Lakers path and to hopefully face one of the Mavs or Thunder in the 1st round rather than the Nuggets, Jazz, or Rockets. It will be tricky for the Clippers to do so with Beverley and George out, but if both guys can return sooner than later, and the team is able to get some cohesion down the stretch, it’s certainly in the cards. All that said, the Clippers being healthy for the postseason is the most important thing, and if they need to sacrifice positioning to have their key guys ready for the playoffs, it will probably be worth it. They’re not going anywhere in the postseason without a healthy Paul George or Pat Beverley, but if they possess their full roster, there’s not a team they can’t beat in the NBA, homecourt advantage or no.

52 Comments

  • Avatar Thegreatestshowman says:

    In before the boo birds, “this is where those losses against lotto teams sting…”

  • Avatar Ric N. Caric says:

    A two-seed is best but there’s no reason to fear a four seed and a Clippers/Lakers match-up in the second round. In fact, I think the Clips match up better with the Lakers than the other contenders. The Lakers are two superstars and spare parts. Because the Clips can at least match the superstars, the superiority of LAC’s complementary players and bench can come into play. Houston’s small ball, Utah gadget players like Joe Ingles, and Denver’s combination of Jokic and depth are all more bothersome.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      If we’re a 4th seed who do you think we’re playing in the 1st round? It’s gonna be one of those teams we don’t match up well against. Most likely Houston.

  • Avatar CLIPSCITY says:

    It’s much better to meet in coference finals (if we do meet there 🙂 than semi finals. LeBron and AD would be super tired. The downside is that Kawhi and PG also would be. This is where the role of the bench would be. Lou, Trez, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, Landry Shamet would DESTROY Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, Quin Cook, Troy Daniels, KCP and Rajon.

  • Dooley Womack Dooley Womack says:

    Meeting the team across the hall in the conference finals in the Battle for LA would be epic. It would be Armageddon. And losing to the little brother would be the apocalypse for the Fakers.

  • Avatar Spencer Ward says:

    One thing about the battle for LA that is useful for the round after, is that there will be 0 travel time involved… which has got to be good for the players.

  • Avatar osamu says:

    so Markieff might be headed to the Lakers?

    • Avatar osamu says:

      I would actually take him with the 15th roster spot if he wants to play with his brother again. The problem is there just isn’t room for playing time, so it would be foolish for him to come here.

      I always felt like they played their best ball when they were together though, so by all means if it means we get a happier Marcus, bring on his brother as well. I just want them together again.

      • Avatar chogokin says:

        Yea unfortunately he wouldn’t have much of a role here…but y’know who could use another wing? Toronto. Toronto isn’t *that* far from Detroit, right?

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      Saw Shams Tweet saying Lakers were the favorite, but that Toronto is interested too. Here’s hoping he decides to stay in the East.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        He a Klutch client so I’m sure Rich Paul will make sure he steers him to his buddy BronBron

      • Avatar osamu says:

        There wasn’t enough buzz about the Laker trying to get Reggie. This time we want to make sure to sweep the rug from under them. Have Shams report they’re the front runner, then he’ll join the Clips.

        • Avatar wwshep says:

          Too late Shams just announced he’s going to the Lakers… Boo!

          • Avatar SportClippz says:

            Laker fans (this is true): “Glad we didn’t get Morris or Jackson, we need to stand pat, the chemistry on this team is amazing, cutting someone would ruin it.”
            They get Markieff Morris
            “Yeah!!! Patience paid off. We got the better brother. He does the little things!!! Who we gonna cut?”

          • Avatar osamu says:

            He was probably the best available, but I thought they needed more guard help. Does he get minutes? I guess Kuz can play more of the 3, but felt like they were staggering Lebron and AD at the 4 as well.

            I think he helps them defensively over Kuz, but I’ll admit, I haven’t watched Markieff in a long time. I remember coming into the league and in their time in Phoenix, Markieff was the better player. Not sure exactly when it flipped, but Markieff has been on way worse teams than Marcus.

          • Avatar osamu says:

            I wonder if any chance someone claims him off waivers. His contract wasn’t bad at all.

            I would think if it comes out he wants to go to the Lakers, most teams wouldn’t want to mess with player/agents plans for fear of ruining a relationship with them, but hey, maybe the Knicks need a new Morris brother.

          • Dooley Womack Dooley Womack says:

            Lucas and Robert and webmaster guy, these comments are way too –NARROW– and very much unreadable. No reason for the margins to be as wide as they are. This is basic web design. Shave pixels at left and right. Better yet, go back to the drawing board and ditch WordPress in favor of Substack, which I’m sure you know Duby Dub Dubs and the former Golden State of Mind people opted to use. letsgowarriors.com is far more usable than this WordPress iteration of 213hoops.com.

  • Avatar SportClippz says:

    Has anyone heard any injury updates on PB and PG?

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Our postponed game against the Lakers will be one 4/9. Will be a B3B for the Lakers.

  • Avatar SportClippz says:

    They’re moving the Clips vs Bulls and Lakers vs GS I believe to new dates

  • Avatar SportClippz says:

    Bulls vs Clips game moved from 4/8 to 4/6

  • Avatar osamu says:

    Lakers waiving Cousins. After he was just on a podcast saying he’s waiting to give it to the Clips.

    People say the Clips need another big…. and have an open roster spot…. haha. After watching Cousins in the playoffs last year before he got injured, he was such a net negative on the floor. Shooting like 25% from 3 and not being able to guard anyone, that would be a crazy hard pass for me, even if he could get back on the court this year.

  • Avatar Notabandwagoner says:

    We should just work at being the best Clippers team we can be. The rest will take care of itself. To be the best, you gotta beat the best, and we will!

  • Avatar DrewsLife1012 says:

    Will you stop

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    This Morris twins thing is creepy and I don’t have a good feeling about it. They plan on living together and working out together. That shit is not going to fly with the DNA of our team—especially Bev who “hates” anyone who’s not on his team. I feel like the hustle was in on this whole thing. If they’re so “close” why didn’t Marcus have more influence over doing what’s best for his/our team? THIS might actually lead to some locker room issues. ^%$%^&^%$#

    • Avatar Balltalk says:

      In retrospect, It seems that we could have gotten Markief without giving up picks or one of our best wing defenders (Moe). Marcus’ stats are not that much better per 36 than Markief’s….

  • Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

  • Avatar sameoldclip says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Houston can claim him with their trade exception if they are willing to pay the tax. He would fit there a lot better than Jeff Green, and it keeps him away from the Lakers (helps them and us).

  • Avatar Stephen Hurd says:

    Hopefully,
    Clippers get to practice with full team & rack up some wins & momentum down the stretch.
    There is No team that will beat us in a 7 game series, if we are fully health.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    So I’m just gonna address this once. Regarding the troll who keeps using burner accounts to keep coming back here, I’m not gonna bother trying to shame it and/or respond to it at all anymore after this comment, since the more we respond the more exposure it gets and the more we feed the troll – this is basically how I handle Stephen A Smith too. I trust the mods here to do their best to whack-a-mole the troll as it pops up over time, and hopefully it’ll just lose interest as time goes on.

  • Avatar Stephen Hurd says:

    Hopefully,
    Clippers get to fully practice with whole team & gain some momentum, winning some good games down the stretch. There is no team in this current league the clippers cannot beat 4 out of seven games in a series. If the team is fully healthy, and doc Rivers has his head on straight for 2 months we might be dancing in the streets come June.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Next 3 games we’ve gotta be focused and beat the the underdogs, and hopefully get everyone fully healthy and in sync, because after these next 3 games we have a really challenging stretch where we play 5 straight very tough games. Denver at home, 76ers at home, Thunder on the road, Rockets on the road, and then Lakers at “home”… Out of that 5 game stretch we could conceivably go 1-4 or even 0-5 if we aren’t firing on all cylinders, so next 3 are must win to give us some cushion. Otherwise we could be staring down the 5th seed pretty quickly… I’m super nervous about the stretch run. Hope things can really start to click.

    • Avatar sjake says:

      Agree with sharp. Gotta take care of biz at this point. We want that 2 seed. There will be no easy rounds in the west for anyone. Be nice to have hca.

    • Avatar SacToLAC says:

      The Clippers should be concerned about only one team – Their own. And I believe that Doc and the squad hold that view.

      Work to get the team and rotations shored up during the last 15 games most of all stay healthy. The rest will take care of itself.

      To me, the most entertaining matchups:
      1st round: OKC
      2nd round: DEN
      WCF: LAL

      To me, The most favorable matchups:
      1st round: DAL
      2nd round: HOU
      WCF: UTA

      Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris help deepen the roster, at least offensively, and dilute the defense. Playoff time, that puts more pressure on Kawhi, PG and PatBev.
      Promise the medical staff extra rings or something.

      Exciting Times!

      • Avatar sjake says:

        I’m with you sactola. I’d love to see that first set of matchups as opposed to the easier route. We’re here to be entertained! All of those series would be fantastic.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Good article. I think 2 seed would be ideal. If we are healthy and clicking, this team will absolutely roll through everyone except Bucks. That will be a slug fest even if we’re playing good.

  • Avatar Thegreatestshowman says:

    [email protected] PatPat recruiting Boogie. Just say no.

  • Avatar crvnzw says:

    Kings will beat us for sure…

  • Avatar crvnzw says:

    Nuggets lost… Jazz lost… that means we gonna lose to Kings today… lmao

  • Avatar crvnzw says:

    This is my last comment.
    Lucas really helped me a lot. Thanks. He’s my guy. I love him. Enjoy being 1st rd exit.