The battle for playoff seeding in the Western Conference could determine several teams' fates this spring. With all eight playoff teams having looked very dangerous at some point in the regular season, first-round matchups figure to go a long way in figuring out which franchises avoid upsets or put themselves in position to surprise NBA fans. There are many quality teams in the West, so seeding might mean less than the ideal matchup.
Heading into the final day of the regular season, the Los Angeles Clippers will be without Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick as they determine whether they enter the playoffs with the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. The team announced late Tuesday night that neither player will make the trip to Portland for the Clippers' regular season finale.
That decision comes after Griffin was assessed his 16th technical foul of the season with 3:23 remaining in the second quarter of Tuesday night's eventual 117-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets. The All-Star power forward earned a technical foul for swinging his right arm at Timofey Mozgov in an attempt to knock the ball away after the play had been whistled dead. Check it out below (via EOB):
A player's 16th technical foul triggers an automatic one-game suspension. (It also puts Griffin at the top of the league's technical foul leaders with Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins (who will also miss his team's season finale). The decision might have been rescinded on Wednesday, given that the action didn't take place long after the referee's whistle, but the Clippers didn't wait to find out before leaving Griffin behind in Los Angeles.
So maybe the team isn't so concerned with finishing third in the conference. While the absence of Griffin and Redick don't necessarily put the Clippers on the path to a loss, they do indicate that they're not going all out or waiting to see if Griffin will be made available. This decision makes some sense, because the No. 6 Golden State Warriors now appear like a substantially less imposing first-round opponent than Dallas or Memphis with Warriors center Andrew Bogut out indefinitely with a broken rib near his lung. No playoff series is a gimme, but any advantage could mean the difference in such a competitive conference.
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