NBA playoffs: LA Clippers facing Phoenix Suns in first-round matchup

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 09: Norman Powell #24 of the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Following a must-win game in the NBA’s regular-season finale, the Los Angeles Clippers will avoid the play-in tournament and will head directly to the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Ivica Zubac and company took care of business Saturday afternoon against a shorthanded Portland squad and were expected to keep up its winning streak with Phoenix resting its stars Sunday including Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton. 

With too much on the line, the Clippers opted not to do the same and would play its stars. The Clippers entered the game against Phoenix in a tie with Golden State, and the two teams faced a potential four-way tiebreaker with New Orleans and the LA Lakers. 

It was a sluggish and borderline embarrassing start for the Clippers who were on their second game of a back-to-back. Westbrook did everything he could but wasn't getting much help as Leonard struggled early. Then, in the second quarter, the game was delayed to repair a speaker at the Footprint Center that officials deemed a safety hazard. 

Fueled by frustration, Mason Plumlee and Bones Hyland got into a heated exchange on the bench and were broken up by teammates. After the game, head coach Ty Lue said, "They worked it out, everything is good," LA Clippers beat writer Joey Linn reported.

The Clippers managed to turn things around in the second half, fueled by Norman Powell who finished the game with 29 points and Leonard with 25.

With a win against Phoenix, the Clippers held onto the fifth spot in the Western Conference and finished the season third in the West’s Pacific Division.  

In a quest to earn the franchise’s first championship, the Clippers will first take on the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns in a seven-game series. 

To clarify, yes. The Clippers not only ended their season in Phoenix, but they will now see them again in the first round of the playoffs. It's the first time the teams will face one another in the postseason since the 2021 Western Conference Finals.

If that wasn't exciting enough, fans will get to see Westbrook take on former OKC teammate Durant. 


It’s not an easy first-round assignment, but it is a sigh of relief for Clipper Nation after watching their playoff chances slip away when they lost two games in last season’s play-in tournament.

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The Clippers will have to survive the first round without Paul George who remains out due to a knee sprain and still, there is no timetable for his return.

In George’s absence, the Clips will continue to rely heavily on Leonard (23. 8 PPG) and Norman Powell (16.8 PPG), who have been the most consistent offensively and were a part of the Toronto Raptors 2019 championship team. In addition, the Clippers also pack a punch with its deep and fearless roster.

The NBA playoffs begin Saturday, April 15 and the Suns v. Clippers series begins Sunday, April 16.