Ranking the Top 5 Games on the LA Clippers' Schedule
The LA Clippers' schedule for the rest of the regular season (now called "seeding games") was officially unveiled Friday night, and it looks like the team will have their work cut out for them.
Four of LA's eight opponents are winners of 40+ games this season, five are essentially locked into playoff spots, and the other three will be fighting hard to make the cut.
That said, the Clippers should be favored in most, if not all, of the games. LA has a 13-5 record against its upcoming opponents on the year, and the team looked as healthy as ever before the season was suspended on March 11.
If you still haven't seen the full schedule, click here. Otherwise, let's jump into the rankings.
No. 5: New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans have the second-worst record of all the teams the Clippers will face in Orlando, but that doesn't mean they should be taken for granted.
New Orleans has gone 11-9 since Zion Williamson made his debut for the Pelicans on January 22, including wins over the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers. During that stretch, the 19-year-old star has averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 29.7 minutes per game.
22-year-old wing Brandon Ingram was named to his first All-Star Game this season as well, averaging 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest.
New Orleans doesn't offer much on the defensive end, but they'll be one of the teams fighting the hardest to qualify for the playoffs. LA should win this one handily, but even if it isn't close, this should be one of the most entertaining games they play.
The Clippers and Pelicans will play on Aug. 1 at 6:00 p.m. EDT. The game will air on ESPN.
No. 4: Oklahoma City Thunder
This one is all about familiarity.
Not only are the Thunder Paul George's former team, but Oklahoma City is currently the home of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari — all of whom are former Clippers.
There's a lot to like about this year's Thunder team. At 40-24, they're one of this season's biggest surprises. Few expected them to make the playoffs, and even fewer expected Paul to still be on the team at this point in the season. Dennis Schroder has been terrific in a reserve role as well, averaging 19.0 points per game off the bench.
The only thing keeping this game from being ranked higher on the list is the timing. OKC is LA's final opponent before the postseason begins, and if either team is locked into a seed at that time, there won't be a point in playing their best players.
The Clippers and Thunder will play on Aug. 14. The time and network are to be determined.
No. 3: Dallas Mavericks
If the playoffs started today, the LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks would meet in the first round — meaning this matchup could become even more important for both teams involved.
Like the Pelicans, the Mavericks are another wildly entertaining team to watch. Led by 21-year-old phenom Luka Doncic, the Mavericks have the league's top-ranked offense and are especially potent from beyond the three-point line.
That said, Dallas is far from impressive on the defensive side of the floor, which is typically where the team loses games. In two games against the Mavericks this season, the Clippers averaged 112.0 points per contest. LA didn't have George for the most recent meeting, either.
If the two do end up meeting in the first round, this game could serve as a prediction of what's to come.
The Clippers and Mavericks will play on Aug. 6 at 6:30 p.m. EDT. The game will air on TNT.
No. 2: Denver Nuggets
As soon as the seeding games begin, the Clippers and Nuggets will be in a battle for the easiest road to the Western Conference Finals, where they'll (most likely) face the Los Angeles Lakers.
As it stands, LA has a 1.5-game lead over Denver for the No. 2 seed in the West. What that gives the Clippers is a pass to potentially avoid facing the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, which is a matchup that no team wants.
The Clippers could also meet the Nuggets in the Conference Semifinals, meaning this could be another playoff preview.
Of all the seeding games LA will play in Orlando, this is easily the most impactful. However, if you've seen the Clippers' full schedule, you know why this isn't their top-ranked game.
The Clippers and Nuggets will play on Aug. 12 at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The game will air on ESPN.
No. 1: Los Angeles Lakers
The big surprise of Friday night's schedule reveal was that the LA Clippers will face the Los Angeles Lakers once again — and that it'll happen on opening night.
The timing is a bit unfortunate, since neither team will be in top shape as soon as the seeding games begin, but this is still a Clippers - Lakers matchup that nobody saw coming.
"The Battle of LA", as it's been called, has been one of the most exciting matchups to watch all season long. The Clippers currently gave a 2-1 lead in the season series, though the Lakers won the most recent contest in March.
If the two teams do end up meeting in the Conference Finals, though, don't look to this game as an expectation of what will come. This game will serve as a fun way to reintroduce the season and nothing more.
The Clippers and Lakers will play on July 30 at 9:00 p.m. EDT. The game will air on TNT.