After a two-month absence that lasted 30 games, it looks like Serge Ibaka may finally return from injury.
Clippers head coach Ty Lue said pre-game that he's "hopeful" that Serge Ibaka will play against the Houston Rockets on Friday.
Ibaka won't be playing against the Charlotte Hornets tonight, but the Clippers will get any time with him that they can get. Ibaka will no longer be starting for the Clippers, and the team is using these final regular-season games to figure out their proper bench rotations. The team has been unhealthy for so long, it's quite an unenviable task for head coach Ty Lue. Players like Terance Mann and Luke Kennard have kept the Clippers afloat during the last 30 games or so.
Regardless, the Clippers will need Serge Ibaka for certain matchups in the playoffs. Against teams like the Denver Nuggets or the Los Angeles Lakers, Ibaka's presence is definitely needed. The biggest issue will be if Ibaka's conditioning is up to speed after missing 30 games. The worst situation for the Clippers is another one similar to last year's with Montrezl Harrell - where he missed the entire bubble seeding games, and then didn't perform as usual in the playoffs.
The LA Clippers still haven't locked in the 3rd seed quite yet, but they'll have a chance to be one step closer tonight.