But here we are in late March with the Nets sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference, only a game behind the rival New York Knicks. The Clippers are currently tied for the third playoff spot with the Memphis Grizzlies.
When the Nets invade the Staples Center on Saturday night, it will be the premier game of the day—at least on paper.
Both teams are coming off easy wins. On Wednesday, the Nets defeated the Dallas Mavericks 113-96 in Dallas behind 38 points from Brook Lopez, and the Clippers smashed the Philadelphia 76ers 101-72 at the Staples Center.
Chris Paul was a stat-sheet stuffer with 19 points, six rebounds, nine assists and five steals.
In the teams' first meeting this season, the Nets were victorious in the Barclays Center, 86-76. They played smothering defense in the second half to limit the Clippers to just 39 points after the break.
Lopez was solid in that game as well with 26 points and five rebounds.
With both teams jockeying for playoff position in their conferences, this is a big game.
They would both get home-court advantage in their first-round series as of now, ascending in the standings could extend the advantage deeper into the playoffs.
For the Nets, getting out of the fourth seed would potentially prolong a meeting with the Miami Heat until the Eastern Conference Finals—assuming they both advance that far.
Unless something horrible happens to the guys in South Beach, it's a safe bet they will be there.
These types of games are what the NBA is all about, and if you're a hoops fanatic, this is one you'll probably want to see.
Here's how you can watch.
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center in Los Angeles
TV: Local - YES Network in New York, PRIME and WFAN in Los Angeles, also available on NBA League Pass
Live Stream: League Pass
The Clippers have a rash of injuries to the backcourt with three players questionable for the game, per CBSSports.com.
- Chauncey Billups - PG - Hamstring - Questionable for March 23 vs. Brooklyn.
- Eric Bledsoe - PG - Calf - Questionable for March 23 vs. Brooklyn.
- Ronny Turiaf - C - Knee - Questionable for March 23 vs. Brooklyn.
- Kris Humphries - PF - Back - Questionable for March 23 at L.A. Clippers.
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Willie Green
SF - Caron Butler
PF - Blake Griffin
C - DeAndre Jordan
PG - Deron Williams
SG - Joe Johnson
SF - Gerald Wallace
PF - Reggie Evans
C - Brook Lopez
Can the Clippers Find Consistency or Can the Nets Continue to Close on the Knicks?
The Clippers have been on a win one-lose-one seesaw for the entire month of March. If they are going to make up any ground in the playoff race, they need to find some consistency.
Defeating the Nets will be no easy task, especially considering the way they have been playing of late and the way Brooklyn handled them in the first matchup. But this is a game the Clippers need to win.
Brooklyn has reason to believe they can catch the Knicks in the standings. New York was woeful on their recent road trip, losing four of five games, and they are dealing with some injuries.
The Nets have an excellent opportunity to climb into the third spot in the East. This game is far from a gimme, but winning it would be huge for the team's confidence as well as their placement in the standings.
W-L Records Against Playoff Teams from Other Conference: Clippers 10-4, Nets 3-9
Even though the Nets won the first matchup, the two teams have had very different results when playing the best teams from the other conference.
Brooklyn is just 3-9 against Western Conference playoff teams, while the Clippers are 10-4 against the Eastern Conference's top eight.
DeAndre Jordan vs. Brook Lopez
Obviously, the marquee matchup is Paul and Williams at the point, but the two stars production may very well cancel each other out.
The duel in the middle will likely have more bearing on who wins this game.
Lopez has been a beast as of late. Not only did he have 38 points and 11 rebounds in Dallas on Wednesday, he also outplayed Jordan in a head-to-head back in November.
If the Clippers want to have a chance to win this game, Jordan must stay out of foul trouble and make himself a force on the boards and as a shot-blocker.
He may not be able to match Lopez's scoring, but he can make just as big of an impact by contributing in other ways.
The Clippers may be a little short-handed, but they are still very tough at home (27-8). I look for them to take this game 100-89, behind a strong game from Jordan, Paul and some guy named Blake Griffin.