As the seeding games draw to a close, there are still a few playoff positions that need to be determined. Among them? The No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets are both in the running for it, and while the Clippers are in pole position, the Nuggets can jump them if they win their two final games and the Clippers lose theirs.
The two sides square off Wednesday night in what very easily could be a playoff preview. The last time these two teams met, the Clippers ran the Nuggets off the floor by 29 points. If Denver wants a different outcome in its possible second-round battle, some improvement against the Clippers will be critical. Here's everything you need to know about tonight's Western Conference showdown.
How to Watch
- Date: Wednesday, Aug. 12 | 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Disney Wide World of Sports -- Orlando, Florida
- TV: ESPN I Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: Clippers -5 | O/U: 229.5
Clippers: Technically, there are actual stakes to this game. Should the Clippers lose this game and their finale, Denver could jump up to No. 2 in the Western Conference with a win in its finale Friday. The Clippers have taken a relatively relaxed approach to these seeding games, resting players freely and seemingly trusting that they can meet whoever they draw in the bracket. We'll get a better sense if they care even a little bit about their matchup by how they play tonight. If they go all out for the win, it means that they likely want to finish No. 2. If they hand this one to the Nuggets on a silver platter? Then they're prepared to face anyone.
Nuggets: Denver still isn't close to full strength. It's still waiting for Gary Harris and Will Barton to return, but even so, the results as the Nuggets have mixed Michael Porter Jr. in with their existing core has been mixed. In his first game alongside Jamal Murray in the bubble, he shot only 7 of 18 from the field as the two worked to find a balance. In their second, Porter shot 100 percent from the field ... on only six shots. Ideally, Denver would like that efficiency on volume closer to its first game, but this is an adjustment for both. Rarely do teams so drastically shift their offense toward a new player so late in the season. This Clippers game is another opportunity for the Nuggets to work on finding that balance.
Denver has more to gain than the Clippers by playing hard in this one. Jumping up to No. 2 locks in a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. That's hardly an ideal matchup, but it's better than risking a possible first-round date with the Houston Rockets. All things considered, the team that is likelier to try hard is the one that's likelier to win: Pick: Nuggets +5