LOS ANGELES – After winning 9 of their last 11 games, the Clippers are clicking as they head towards a Round 1 playoff matchup with the Utah Jazz.
Heading into the final week of the regular season, here are the power rankings from NBA.com, ESPN.com, SI.com and CBSSports.com, along with a brief explanation for the choices. Click on the ranking under each publication’s name to see the full explanations for each team.
Clippers No. 6 (Last week: No. 10) – “This may be the last run for the Clippers and they may be hitting their stride (again) at the right time. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games, with the league’s second best offense and eighth best defense in that span. After taking advantage a home-heavy stretch, they got a signature win in San Antonio on Saturday to move back into fourth place. They’re 41-18 with Chris Paul, who has the league’s best on-court Net Rtg (plus-14.0) outside the Warriors’ four All-Stars. They’re also 3-1 against their first-round opponent, with the only loss coming when the Jazz shot a season-best 14-for-21 from 3-point range last month.” – John Schuhmann
Clippers No. 7 (Last week: No. 12) – “Some long-awaited good news in Clipperland as the home team closes in on its fifth successive 50-win season: If the Clips win their final two games at home against Houston and Sacramento, it no longer matters what Utah does. L.A. holds the season-series tiebreaker between the clubs (3-1) and snags home-court advantage for its first-round series with the Jazz as long as it avoids a slip-up. Now for the bad news: Since the NBA expanded to the current 16-team playoff format in 1983-84, No. 4 seeds are curiously just 30-36 in their matchups with No. 5 seeds. (That includes the Clippers’ first-round loss to Portland last season after both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin went down.)” – Marc Stein
Clippers No. 7 (Last week: No. 11) – “I don’t want to say this too loudly but…after another long, strange season, the Clippers look pretty good right now. The annual wishful thinking championship belt remains in Los Angeles.” – Jeremy Woo
Clippers No. 4 (Last week: No. 6) – “The Clippers’ best net ratings this season were in the first 10 games of the year … and the last 10 games. They are finishing about as well as they began, and flying completely under the radar. This bodes well for them.” – Matt Moore