Could Blake Griffin and the Clippers sweep the Lakers for the first time since 1975?
With only eight regular-season games in the month of April, the Los Angeles Clippers will be looking to close out the 2012-13 campaign on a high before entering the grind of the postseason.
April will be much kinder.
Lob City only plays three playoff teams, specifically the Indiana Pacers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. With the No. 3 seed still in play, the Clips could need another perfect month to hold off the Grizzlies and the Denver Nuggets.
Which games should fans get excited for? Who will be a good measuring stick for the Clippers before the playoffs?
We will break it down, with rankings based on criteria including overall matchup, opposing star power and significance in terms of playoff picture.
When: Wednesday, April 10
Where: Staples Center
Season Series: Clippers 3, Timberwolves 0
Breakdown: The last time the Clippers squared off against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Los Angeles, Lob City was coming off of a season-worst four-game losing streak.
The T-Wolves were the first victim of the Clips’ 17-game winning streak, catapulting them to the top of the NBA standings.
Clipper Nation should only hope that another home win over Minnesota will be the spark of another long winning streak.
Prediction: Minnesota does not have enough firepower to keep up with the Clippers. Lob City wins 103-90.
When: Monday, April 1
Where: Staples Center
Season Series: Clippers 1, Pacers 0
Breakdown: The last time the Clippers played the Pacers, Los Angeles earned a hard-fought road win.
Although the Pacers gave the Clippers a scare down the stretch, Chris Paul was too much for Indiana to handle in crunch time. CP3 was huge, finishing the game with 29 points, eight dimes and six boards. That win came against a Pacers team without its center Roy Hibbert, however.
With the Georgetown product back on the court, the Pacers are likely the second-best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat. When Paul George and Indiana come to town, they will certainly be looking for revenge.
The Pacers’ suffocating defense will also be a good measuring stick for judging Lob City’s suspect half-court offense. Per NBA.com, Indiana has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4.
How Paul can orchestrate LAC’s high-powered offense will be an indicator of how this team has progressed—or regressed—by the end of the season.
Prediction: Indiana keeps it close throughout, but Chris Paul rides the home crowd to a W. Clips win 97-90.
When: Wednesday, April 17
Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento
Season Series: Clippers 2, Kings 1
Breakdown: The last game of the season for both the Kings and the Clippers will carry significance for both organizations.
After the Clippers were humiliated behind a fourth-quarter barrage of three-pointers in a 116-101 blowout loss to the cellar-dweller Kings, Lob City will be looking for redemption.
The Clips, the Grizzlies and the Nuggets will likely be neck and neck as the season winds down, making every game a must-win.
Although the Kings will be heading to the lottery again this offseason, they have plenty of reason to leave it all on the court against the Clippers.
Given the franchise’s uncertain future, this could be the team’s last game in Sacramento. The stadium will be packed, turning the otherwise dull Sleep Train Arena into something of a rocking early 2000s Arco Arena.
The Clippers will have to weather the storm and contain the Kings’ raw emotion if they hope to steal this game on the road.
Prediction: The Kings start fast and early but are unable to sustain their high-quality play. Clips win 108-95.
When: Sunday, April 7
Where: Staples Center
Season Series: Clippers 3, Lakers 0
Breakdown: Although this is technically a Clippers home game, expect to see dozens of purple and gold jerseys in the final installment of this season’s Battle of Los Angeles.
The dichotomy between these two organizations could not be more pronounced.
The Lakers have 16 NBA championships; the Clippers do not even have a single Pacific Division championship.
Another loss to the Clippers this season means little to the Lakers. However, a Clipper win over the Lakeshow would be historic.
A Lob City victory over its Staples center co-tenants will give the Clips their first season sweep over the Lakers in Los Angeles, and their first franchise sweep in 38 years.
Bragging rights aside, it is always encouraging to sweep a division rival. Despite the Lakers’ underwhelming record, another win over Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard is a testament to the turnaround of this downtrodden franchise.
Prediction: It seems like the Lakers always have trouble putting it together for 48 minutes against an elite team. This game will be much of the same, as the Clips knock off the Lakers 103-89.
When: Saturday, April 13
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis
Season Series: Clippers 2, Grizzlies 1
Breakdown: Coming off of a big home loss the last time these two squared off, the Clips will hope to dispatch Memphis for the ninth time in their last 14 tries in this April edition of what seems to be a never-ending playoff series.
As the Grizzlies keep pace with the Clippers for the West’s No. 3 seed, a Los Angeles win over Memphis becomes all the more important.
If Denver keeps winning, the No. 3 seed could become obsolete. In that situation, Lob City will likely have another first-round matchup with Memphis this postseason.
A win gives the Clips a hard-earned 3-1 season series victory over their conference rivals. More than anything, it will demonstrate that the Clips still have what it takes to make a deep playoff run in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Prediction: The Clippers won earlier this season in Memphis, but not even Lob City is talented enough to win back-to-back games at the FedEx Forum. The Grizzlies grind out a tough one 98-93.