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The Race of a Lifetime: Clippers Reach for Playoffs’ 1st Seed

Feb 12, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) moves the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) during the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, February 14, the Clippers went to San Francisco and made an incredible comeback against the Warriors to put their record at 36-17 prior to the All-Star break. This win officially put them at 3rd seed in the Western Conference standings. Coming out of the break, they find themselves in an intense 4-team race for the Western Conference 1st seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. This is your preview of the Clippers’ playoff race of a lifetime.

Clippers Reach for Playoffs 1st Seed

The Three Other Competitors

The current #1 are the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves. The T-Wolves currently sit at 39-16, 2 games ahead of the Clippers. Nobody expected the T-Wolves to be on top. Last year, their season came to an embarrassing end when they were gentlemen swept in the first round by the Nuggets amid Rudy Gobert being suspended for punching his teammate and Jaden McDaniels breaking his hand punching a wall. There weren’t high expectations going into this season. However, they have proved the doubters wrong. Karl-Anthony Towns has been his usual excellent self, averaging 22.5 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Furthermore, Gobert has shown himself to be every bit the defensive stalwart advertised. Finally, Anthony Edwards has broken out as a star, averaging 26.3 PPG. Together, they have led a fierce Wolves squad to their best season in years. However, they limped into the All-Star break with embarrassing losses to the Blazers and Spurs.

The current #2, half a game ahead of the Clippers, is the young OKC Thunder. Last year’s Thunder team was barely a play-in team at only 40-42. However, they have turned it around this season. Their young top star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, has broken out into an MVP candidate, averaging a whopping 31.5 PPG. Furthermore, rookie Chet Holmgren has been every bit the prospect advertised, averaging 16.7 PPG and 7.6 RPG. They have been bolstered by a young core including Jaylin Williams, the other Jalen Williams, Isaiah Joe, and Cason Wallace. Their rebuild, led by GM Sam Presti, has been a massive success, catapulting them into serious championship contention. They’re young and inexperienced, but they can beat anybody on any given night and will be a massive threat once the postseason arrives.

The Clippers’ final competitor is the defending champion Denver Nuggets (currently #4). They have shown their usual excellence that brought them to a championship. The 3-time MVP Nikola “Big Honey” Jokic has been having another monster season, averaging 26.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 8.9 APG. He has been extremely efficient, with a 55.6 FG% and 59.0 eFG%. His longtime second star, Jamal Murray, has been the perfect compliment to his style of play. Murray has been usual excellent self, averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.5 APG on 54.2 eFG%. You know the Nuggets. They have “the heart of a champion” and nobody should ever underestimate that. They were the best in the world last year and, barring a catastrophe, have a good chance to retain that title once the playoffs arrive.

Clippers’ Playoff Chances

Against this stiff competition, the Clippers have managed to keep pace. After an inauspicious 3-7 start, they went on a 9-game winning streak and have gone 33-10 since then. Even amid injuries to key players like top star Kawhi Leonard and the eternally underrated Ivica Zubac, they have maintained their elite level of play. They have a top-5 offense and a top-10 defense. Players like Paul George and hometown hero James Harden have stepped up and showed out. Even unlikely heroes like Daniel Theis and Mason Plumlee have proved themselves in clutch moments. They are the real deal and they prove it every night on primetime TV, live and in color, with the whole world watching.

Now, they seek the coveted home court advantage throughout the playoffs by securing the #1 seed. However, their elite competitors, the T-Wolves, Nuggets, and Thunder, won’t go down without a fight. Each team has roughly 25 games left in the season. The race is sure to be intense throughout, and it will almost certainly come down to the wire at the end of the season. Players will have to step up and prove their mettle in the clutch. The defense will be stifling and the offense will be scorching. No matter who wins, one thing is for certain: NBA fans should be excited to witness the race of a lifetime as the Clippers, T-Wolves, Nuggets, and Thunder reach for the #1st seed and glory.

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