Are you a Clippers fan who isn’t sure who to root for in the NBA’s August 7th bubble games? You’re in the right place.

With each team playing just eight “seeding games” in Orlando before the playoffs begin, there’s limited time to both battle for playoff positioning as well as build momentum after a four-month layoff. That means that, while we obviously want the Clippers to be successful, Clippers fans can’t just pay attention to LAC–nearly every game played in the NBA over this two-week span is important to the playoff picture.

Things broke the Clippers’ way yesterday, so let’s take a glance at today’s games and see what we’re pulling for with another full slate of games.

The NBA’s August 7th Bubble Games

All times Pacific Time.

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs, 10:00am, NBA League Pass

Rooting for: San Antonio Spurs

This early match-up is the most important of the NBA’s August 7th bubble games. The Clippers need the Jazz (and/or Thunder) to pick up a couple of losses to fall to a secure 6th, locking Houston into the 4-5 match-up (unless they manage to pass Denver for 3rd–more on that later). Fortunately, the Jazz seem to have a similar idea. After losing to the Houston Rockets in 5 games in the 2018 NBA Playoffs and the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Utah seems to know that dropping to 6th will most likely pit them against the Denver Nuggets and keep them far from the Rockets.

So, they’re doing the Clippers a bit of a favor: benching pretty much their whole starting lineup in this game against the Spurs.

The Spurs, for their part, are on life support in the race for the Western Conference play-in. They sit 2-2 in the bubble and need to finish 3-1 in their last 4 games to have a shot. With games vs New Orleans, Houston, and Utah after tonight, that’s actually possible–but losing tonight to the Jazz’s backups would all but do them in.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Memphis Grizzlies, 1:00pm, NBATV

Rooting for: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies, who are currently 0-4 in the bubble, would hurt a lot of teams’ play-in chances if they get even one win. Right now, Portland (3-1 in bubble play) needs to make up just one more game on the Grizzlies to move into 8th.

From there, the race for 9th gets interesting. If Memphis finishes 0-8, New Orleans (currently 1-3, would need to finish 4-4), Sacramento (1-3; 4-4), San Antonio (2-2, 5-3), and Phoenix (4-0, 7-1) would all have a chance of passing them. Every win the Grizzlies steal sets the bar one game higher for each of those teams, and they each have a maximum margin for error of just one game.

I’m glad that Portland has the inside track for 8th, and haven’t quite decided what I want to happen in 9th yet. The most fun answer is undoubtedly the Phoenix Suns, but even with their magnificent (really, I’m unironically describing the Phoenix Suns as magnificent) 4-0 start, it’s a tall order to get to 7-1 or 8-0 in the bubble when all 4 remaining games are against teams above .500 (MIA, OKC, PHI, DAL). Memphis narrowly holding on to 9th with a 1-7 finish might give Portland their easiest possible play-in scenario, letting them rest for the Lakers.

But more important in this game than the race for the play-in tourney is OKC’s status–they’re a half-game back from Utah and Houston (who are tied) with one more game left to play than those teams. If Utah and OKC both lose tomorrow, Houston’s odds of finish 4th go way up, and their chances of dropping to 6th become slim.

Sacramento Kings vs Brooklyn Nets, 2:00pm, NBA League Pass

Rooting for: Brooklyn Nets

As mentioned above, Sacramento needs to finish at least 4-4 to have a shot at the play-in tournament, and they’re already just 1-3. After this game, they conclude against Houston, New Orleans, and the Lakers. If LAL rests guys in their finale, 3-1 could happen, but I’m not banking on it.

If the Kings win and keep the dream alive, good for them. But I’ll be rooting for the lowly Nets to pick up a rare win, putting them safely in the driver’s seat for 7th in the East and leaving the stronger Orlando Magic to maybe wear down the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. They won’t win a game, but maybe they can make the sweep more competitive? Maybe?

Orlando Magic vs Philadelphia 76ers, 3:30pm, TNT

Rooting for: Philadelphia 76ers

We’re running with some of the same logic as above here: Orlando losing keeps them behind Brooklyn in the 7-8 race. For Philly’s part, I have more faith in them as a potential Milwaukee second round opponent than Indiana, just based on talent and experience. But it’s just hard to get excited about Philadelphia 76ers basketball this year. They might be the most dreadful good team ever.

Washington Wizards vs New Orleans Pelicans, 5:00pm, NBA League Pass

Rooting for: Washington Wizards

Okay, let’s roll with wanting either Memphis (easy for Portland) or Suns (second-most-fun team fighting for play-in) to end up in 9th place playing against the Portland Trail Blazers.

That would mean wanting New Orleans, Sacramento, and San Antonio to each struggle a bit in their final bubble games to leave the door open for it to come down to Phoenix or Memphis. The Clippers stand to get a little bit of help from Sacramento and San Antonio, who each have games left against Houston, but New Orleans doesn’t have any opponents left who matter much to LAC. So, might as well root for them to get knocked to the brink of elimination.

Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors, 6:00pm, TNT

Rooting for: Toronto Raptors

It’s tough to find much of an angle for this game, as Toronto and Boston are both all but guaranteed to finish 2nd and 3rd in the East and neither has much left to play for in their seeding games. However, both have games left against Memphis, and it would be a real bummer if the Suns go 7-1 but miss out on the play-in tournament because the Grizzlies won a game against the third string of a resting contender.

So, while Toronto faces no peril, a Boston loss here could potentially leave them with a little more reason to play hard in game 7 vs Memphis than if they win and lock down 3rd place.

While this game doesn’t have major seeding ramifications, I hope that both teams play their guys–it’s a preview of what should be a great second-round series and definitely the marquee matchup of the NBA’s August 7th bubble games.

Yesterday’s Games

Sacramento Kings 140, New Orleans Pelicans 125

We were rooting for: Sacramento Kings

This was a really rough break for New Orleans, who already didn’t have much of a margin for error and now dropped one of the easiest games left on their schedule. Now, both teams are just one misstep (or win from Memphis) away from being on the brink of mathematical elimination.

Miami Heat 116, Milwaukee Bucks 130

We were rooting for: Miami Heat

The Bucks ran away with this one late, as the Heat struggled to produce fourth-quarter offense without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic. With Miami’s hopes of catching Boston at 3 all but extinguished, and Philadelphia trailing Indiana for 5th place, it looks like Miami will face the Pacers in the first round before potentially taking on the Bucks in the second round.

Hopefully Butler and Dragic make quick and full recoveries to help the Heat in that match-up.

Indiana Pacers 99, Phoenix Suns 115

We were rooting for: Phoenix Suns

Wow. This game might be even more impressive than Phoenix’s hot shooting win against the Clippers–they beat a very solid Pacers team while shooting just 26.5% from deep, and with Devin Booker limited to 29 minutes and 20 points due to foul trouble. Most impressive: a 21-0 Phoenix run in the late 3rd and early 4th while Booker was on the sideline. The run was all Cameron Payne (10 points) and Dario Saric (11 points), and they even both assisted one of each other’s threes during that stretch.

Los Angeles Clippers 126, Dallas Mavericks 111

We were rooting for: the better team

The Clippers played a solid game and closed excellently, winning the final frame 35-24. Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green, splitting minutes at center, were both flat-out phenomenal. Check out Niels Pineda’s game recap and the postgame pod featuring myself and Robert Flom for more coverage.

Portland Trail Blazers 125, Denver Nuggets 115

We were rooting for: Portland Trail Blazers

The Clippers need a bit of a tight-rope walk from third-place Denver. LAC wants to maintain 2nd place and their first-round date with the Mavs, but if the Nuggets fall too far, Houston could move into 3rd and challenge the Clippers in the second round.

This was a huge win for Portland, who should now need to just go 2-2 in their final 4 games to make the play-in tournament (likely as the 8-seed, not the 9).

Houston Rockets 113, Los Angeles Lakers 97

We were rooting for: Houston Rockets

Just as with Denver, the Clippers need a bit of a balancing act from Houston: stay ahead of OKC and/or Utah, but don’t pass Denver. So far, so good–and a Spurs win against the resting Jazz tomorrow will put the Rockets a full game ahead of 6th. Houston would need to outperform Denver by 3 games in the bubble to move into 3rd. At the halfway point, they’ve made up one–they’re 3-1 to Denver’s 2-2. If Denver (UTA, LAL, LAC, TOR) can muster 3-1, they clinch 2nd. If they go 2-2, Houston (SAC, SAS, PHI, IND) needs to be perfect. Fortunately, Philly and Indiana could both be in a position to be battling for 5th in their final games.

It’s hard to read too much into the Lakers’ struggles, since they clinched the 1-seed earlier this week, have nothing left to play for, and LeBron James sat out last night. Still, any amount of shakiness for the Lakers can only help the Clippers, as LAL’s confidence and chemistry could start to be negatively impacted.

Stay tuned in to 213Hoops every day of the NBA’s Orlando Bubble for a new Rooting Interests.

213Hoops is an independently owned and operated L.A. Clippers blog by Clippers fans, for Clippers fans. If you enjoy our content, please consider subscribing to our Patreon. Subscriptions start at $1 a month and support from readers like you goes a long way towards helping us keep 213Hoops sustainable, growing, and thriving.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments