Clippers have three games left, and five potential playoff matchups

Clippers have three games left, and five potential playoff matchups
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford tries to grab a pass in front of Lakers guard Jeremy Lin during a game Tuesday at Staples Center. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

If it seems like folly for the Clippers to zero in on any potential playoff matchup with three games left in the regular season, well, it's because it is.

The Clippers could finish anywhere from second to sixth in the Western Conference standings and play one of five teams in the first round.


"In three days," Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford said Friday, "the matchups have changed five times. It's unbelievable."

The Clippers (53-26) entered Friday in a tie with San Antonio (53-26) for fifth place in the West, only half a game behind Memphis (53-25) and Houston (53-25) for second place.

The Clippers could almost guarantee home-court advantage in the first round by winning their final three games, beginning Saturday at Staples Center against Memphis. The Clippers then stay home to play Denver (29-49) on Monday before closing the regular season on the road against Phoenix (39-40) on Tuesday.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers has adopted a simple mantra over the final portion of the season.

"Just keep winning," said Rivers, whose team has won 11 of its last 12 games. "If you keep winning, it's hard for you not to get home court."

The only givens in the West playoffs are that Golden State (64-15) will have the top seeding and Portland (51-28) will hold a top-four seeding by virtue of winning the Northwest Division. But the Trail Blazers could open the playoffs on the road because the teams in the fifth and sixth spots currently have better records.

Assuming the Clippers win the rest of their games, they would hold tiebreakers for playoff seeding over San Antonio, Houston and Memphis, provided those teams did not win their division.

"There's so many scenarios," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "That's the crazy part."

The Clippers learned the importance of home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs last season when a raucous crowd carried them to a come-from-behind victory over Golden State.

"I remember as soon as we came on the court it was electric," Crawford said. "The crowd was into it. They were fired up and it was truly a win-or-go-home moment for us and we got it done."

Rivers said home-court advantage was less significant after the first round.

"Once you get out of it," Rivers said, "both teams are comfortable, both teams are playoff-tested now, so that's when to me home court [means] less. You're ready to play."

Decision time

Rivers said the team would "most likely" sign another player before the Clippers' game against the Grizzlies, with recent 10-day signees Lester Hudson and Nate Robinson among the options. Rivers said Robinson's injured knee was "probably not where we would like it, but it's better."


Crawford, who recently returned from a five-week absence caused by a severely bruised calf, said his rhythm was improving after working out with the team's second unit Thursday, an off day for the starters. … Griffin said he would select Houston's James Harden as his most valuable player, though Golden State's Stephen Curry would rank a close second. "I just think James has done so much with less," Griffin said. "He's had a lot of guys injured and they're sitting at No. 2 [in the West] right now, but you can't go wrong with either one." NBA players are selecting an MVP this season for the first time as part of the Players Choice Awards.


When: 7 p.m Saturday PDT.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Grizzlies 53-25 through Thursday, Clippers 53-26.

Record vs. Grizzlies: 1-2.

Update: A Clippers victory would put them in position to own the tiebreaker between the teams, provided the Grizzlies do not win the Southwest Division, because it would give the Clippers a better record against Western Conference opponents, one of the tiebreakers used to seed teams.

Twitter: @latbbolch