Clippers to open playoffs against defending champion San Antonio Spurs

The Clippers' NBA playoffs begin Sunday night against the San Antonio Spurs

The Clippers' worst-case scenario materialized Wednesday after both the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies won and the San Antonio Spurs lost, setting up a first-round playoff series between the No. 3-seeded Clippers and the No. 6-seeded Spurs.

The Spurs, of course, are the defending NBA champions and will play the Clippers in Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Staples Center. Game 2 is set for Wednesday night. Game 3 will be played April 24 in San Antonio.

Entering Wednesday's games, the Clippers were in second place in the Western Conference, half a game ahead of the Rockets and Spurs, who were tied for third place. The Clippers had locked down either the second or the third seed and were slated to be matched against either the Grizzlies, Rockets, Spurs or Dallas Mavericks depending on what happened in Wednesday's games.

The Rockets ended up beating the Utah Jazz, 117-91, while the Spurs lost to the New Orleans Pelicans, 108-103, and the Grizzlies beat the Indiana Pacers, 95-83. That was the only possible scenario that would have dropped the Clippers to the third seed and sent the Spurs to the sixth seed.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers has repeatedly called the Spurs the best team in the league, and Blake Griffin said at a practice on Friday that the Spurs were the one team that the Clippers wanted to avoid in the first round.

Said Griffin: "You probably never want to play the Spurs in the first round if you have a choice. The Spurs are playing their best basketball, like they normally tend to do."

What made the Clippers-Spurs matchup even more surprising was that the Spurs were the hottest team in the NBA before Wednesday, having won 11 games in a row and 21 of their last 24 games.

The Clippers happen to be the second-hottest team, having won seven straight games and 14 of their last 15.

The Spurs have won five NBA championships. The Clippers have never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

Here is the schedule (some times and broadcast affiliates to be determined):

Game 1: Spurs at Clippers, 7:30 p.m. Sunday TNT

Game 2: Spurs at Clippers, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday TNT

Game 3: Clippers at Spurs, 6:30 p.m. April 24 ABC

Game 4: Clippers at Spurs, 12:30 p.m. April 26 ESPN

Game 5*: Spurs at Clippers, TBD April 28

Game 6*: Clippers at Spurs, TBD April 30

Game 7*: Spurs at Clippers, TBD May 2 TNT

* if necessary

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