Clippers, Thunder to Battle for Second Seed in Final Regular Season Games
With one game remaining, the Los Angeles Clippers (57-24) will head to Oregon on Wednesday and take on the Portland Trail Blazers (53-28) in their quest for the West’s second seed. The Clippers need a win over Portland and an Oklahoma City Thunder loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Without this scenario playing out, they’ll head to the playoffs as the third seed.
Los Angeles will likely play without Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick (rest). For Griffin this comes as he received his 16th technical foul for the season on Tuesday and has a league-mandated one-game suspension–unless he gets it rescinded.
On Tuesday, the team defeated the Denver Nuggets,117-105. The victory represented a franchise-record win for the Clippers at No. 57. Griffin scored 24 points while Chris Paul added 21 points (13 points in the first quarter) with 10 assists while Redick contributed 18 points.
As for Portland, they’re headed back to the playoffs after a two-year absence. They’ll do so as a No. 5 seed and they’ll play the Houston Rockets. They’ll look to end their postseason win drought as their last win came in 2000 against the Utah Jazz during the West’s conference semifinals.
The team is looking forward to the postseason with Nicolas Batum saying via the Associated Press, “It’s the West. We don’t care who we’re going to play. It’s going to be tough anyway. Excited finally for playoffs to start because we wait too much for that.”
Trail Blazers coach Coach Terry Stotts has already said LaMarcus Aldridge may not play on Wednesday so he can get additional rest but look for the usual starters including Batum, Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews to play.
While Portland’s opponent is set, they’ll still play on Wednesday, trying to keep the momentum going as they’ve won their last eight of nine games. Their most recent win came on Sunday against Golden State, 119-117 in OT. Aldridge scored 26 points while Matthews contributed 24.
For this game, in the team’s two previous meetings this season, they are split. Portland got the first win on Dec. 26, 116-112 in OT, on the home court while the Clippers got the second one at home on Feb. 12 with a 122-117 victory. Chris Paul has a 27 point and 14 assists average for these games.
The Blazers play well at home against the Clippers, winning eight of their 10 previous games.
Vegas doesn’t have a winner yet for Wednesday but looking ahead, the Clippers are 9/2 to win the 2014 NBA Western Conference and 9/1 for the 2014 NBA Championship. As for Portland, it sits at 18/1 for the conference championship and 40/1 to win it all.
In other Northwest division news, the Thunder will conclude its season against the Pistons, hoping to snap a two-game losing streak.
This may be just the game to do so as they have won 10 straight times against Detroit.
Oklahoma will also have the playoffs on their minds as they are battling the Clippers on this final night for the No. 2 Western Conference seed. Their chances seem better for a win over Detroit while Los Angeles has a greater challenge against Portland.
In Monday’s 101-89 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Thunder committed 18 turnovers, well above its 8.5 average in its four previous games. Kevin Durant scored 25 points while Serge Ibaka contributed 22 with 16 rebounds.
As for Detroit, they’re look to snap their three-game losing streak in this final game of the season. Change is coming for this franchise next season and it has already started as Joe Dumars resigned as its president of basketball operations on Monday.
In their only meeting this season, Oklahoma City got a 119-110 win on Nov. 8 as Durant scored 37 points.
Vegas doesn’t have a winner yet but has the Thunder at 2/1 to win the Western Conference and 4/1 to win it all.