Clippers aren’t too concerned with playoff seedings, Doc Rivers says

Clippers guard Nate Robinson attempts to get by Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne during the Clippers' 89-76 win on Tuesday.
(Gus Ruelas / AP)

Seedings, schmeedings.

Coach Doc Rivers said it doesn’t matter where the Clippers finish in the Western Conference standings.

“We’ll play anybody,” Rivers said Monday night after his team defeated Minnesota, 89-76, to maintain the No. 5 seeding in its conference. “That’s our attitude.”

That may interest those who note the Clippers have gone 6-2 against Houston, Portland and Dallas, the teams they would likely meet in the first round of the playoffs if they finish third through sixth in the West.


The Clippers have had considerably less success against Golden State and Memphis, going 2-3 against the teams they would probably play if they finish seventh or eighth.

Intensifying the seedings debate is the fact that one of the Clippers’ losses to those middle-of-the-pack teams (Houston) came with Blake Griffin sidelined and the other (against Portland) came with Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes out.

The Clippers (41-23) entered Tuesday 2 1/2 games behind Houston (43-20) for the No. 3 seeding in the West but were only one game ahead of San Antonio (39-23) for the No. 7 seeding. The latter seeding would likely entail a first-round matchup against Memphis (45-18), which has split its two games against the Clippers this season.

If the Clippers dropped into the No. 8 seeding, they would almost surely play Golden State (50-12), which has won two of three games against its Pacific Division rival.

Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick acknowledged a favorable first-round matchup would be conducive to reaching the second round.

“In the playoffs, matchups are very important, more so than homecourt advantage or what your record in the regular season is,” Redick said. “It’s how do you match up with this team, how do you match up with them in a seven-game series, how do you match up with them in a slower game a lot of times in the playoffs?”

Rivers has said gaining homecourt advantage won’t matter much in the West this season because the teams are so evenly matched. Of course, evenly matched series often last seven games, and the Clippers know how much hosting a Game 7 can matter after defeating Golden State at Staples Center last season in the first round.

Welcome back

Ralph Lawler Night was about more than Ralph Lawler.

It was also about creating a welcoming culture for a franchise that has been the laughingstock of the NBA for much of its 45-year existence. That’s why the Clippers asked their most famous players to take part in the ceremony Monday honoring Lawler for his 36 years of service.

Rivers said he had invited every former Clippers player to spend time around the team since arriving in Los Angeles nearly two years ago.

“We don’t have any history. We have to build our history,” Rivers said. “We have to bring ex-people back, not just players but coaches, front-office guys and honor them and we’ve got to do it. I think it’s important.”

Rivers wouldn’t directly address whether the removal of the controversial Donald Sterling as owner had eased his efforts to build a more hospitable environment.

“They all came, let me put it that way,” Rivers said of the team’s former stars, “and they haven’t been here.”

Erratic start

Nate Robinson has made only two of 15 shots in his two games as a Clipper, including a one-for-nine performance Monday against the Timberwolves.

It hasn’t been all bad, though.

The reserve guard did provide an energetic burst in the second quarter when he made a three-pointer from the corner, holding his wrist for effect, before finding Austin Rivers for another three-pointer on the Clippers’ next possession.

“He a wild card and that’s how we’ll probably use him,” Doc Rivers said. “On a normal night, I probably would have taken him out [Monday], to be honest. But I want him to just come in and he’ll have one of those games where he makes shots and plays great and he’ll have some of these games and I’ll be sitting there [wondering], should I keep him in or not? That’s who he is, that’s who he’s always been.”


When: 5 p.m. PDT.

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena.

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

Records: Clippers 41-23, Thunder 35-28.

Record vs. Thunder: 1-1.

Update: Oklahoma City is fighting with New Orleans for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a challenge that has become more difficult with Thunder forward Kevin Durant sidelined since late February with a right foot injury. Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook has collected five triple-doubles over his last six games, placing him in the conversation for NBA most valuable player alongside Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Houston’s James Harden. “I would give the MVP to Russell Westbrook,” Clippers guard J.J. Redick said. “James and Steph are deserving, but what he’s done the last two months is incredible.” Blake Griffin (elbow surgery) did not travel with the Clippers on their brief trip, ruling him out for the games against the Thunder and Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch