PORTLAND — The Clippers played out the string of an 82-game regular-season schedule on Wednesday night, knowing before they tipped off against the Portland Trail Blazers that their playoff opponent had been set.
So with three starters back in Los Angeles resting, the Clippers rallied from 22 points down behind Jamal Crawford’s 34 points only to lose, 110-104, to the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
The third-seeded Clippers (57-25) will open the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors (51-31) at Staples Center on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Game 2 will be on Monday night in Los Angeles.
When the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Detroit Pistons earlier Wednesday, that ended the Clippers’ hopes of moving up to the second seed in the West, even if they had defeated Portland.
“You got to want who you get,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of playing the Warriors. “And that’s the bottom line. Whoever you get, that’s who you want. I think it’s as simple as that.”
The Clippers left power forward Blake Griffin, point guard Chris Paul and shooting guard J.J. Redick back home in Los Angeles to rest.
Griffin wouldn’t have been able to play against anyway because he was suspended for one game after being called for his 16th technical foul of the season Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Griffin has been dealing with back spasms, Paul missed 18 games with a separated right shoulder and Redick missed 25 games because of a bulging disk in his back.
“I just value rest, period, and health,” Rivers said about leaving his three starters behind. “Blake is not 100%, and we know that. Chris has been banged up all year.”
Glen Davis started in place of Griffin, Darren Collison in place of Paul and Crawford in place of Redick.
Less than two minutes into the game, Rivers pulled DeAndre Jordan off the floor. Jordan did not return to the game.
By starting, With his brief appearance, Jordan finished a second consecutive season of starting all 82 regular-season games. He has played in 240 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA.
But after the game, the talk was about the how seven-game series between the Clippers and Warriors has the potential to be compelling because the two teams don’t like each other.
“They want to beat us and we want to beat them,” Rivers said. “And we’re in their way, they’re in our way. Somebody has got to get out of the way at the end of the day.
“I’ve been saying it for a while. Portland, us, Oklahoma City, we’re all the young teams. We’re trying to make our day. We’re trying to jump up there and we don’t want the other ones to do it. It’s pretty simple to me. So if it is something there [between the Clippers and Warriors], who cares? They are still in our way and we’re in theirs. At the end of the day, someone is going to have to move.”