Before the Clippers took the Staples Center court Sunday night, they had tumbled in the Western Conference.
Utah defeated Washington earlier Sunday, pushing the fifth-place Clippers 1½ games behind the fourth-place Jazz.
And the playoff race got even more crowded for the Clippers because sixth-place Memphis also won Sunday and pulled to within one game (two in the loss column) of the Clippers, pending their game against Charlotte.
Not that any of this means anything to Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.
“I can honestly tell you I have not looked at the standings or conference,” Rivers said. “To me, once we’ve had all the injuries and dropped games, to me it’s all about just being right for the playoffs and being healthy and having good rhythm.”
Rivers’ immediate concern is trying to navigate the month of March. The Clippers play 18 games in 30 days next month, 10 of them at Staples, including one that’s a Lakers home game.
“It’s funny, we have a lot of home games and we don’t travel a lot, but March is brutal when you look at our schedule,” Rivers said.
With 23 regular-season games left after Sunday, Rivers said he’s not worried about where his team will be seeded for the playoffs — even if a top-four spot guarantees the Clippers home-court advantage in the first round.
“I really don’t,” Rivers said. “Obviously if I think there’s something that we can do about it late, you do. But right now it’s more about getting right and giving yourself a shot that way.
“There’s not a lot you can do about worrying about seeding. I learned that early on as a player. I can’t control those other games that are going on. I’m sitting here. I can’t do anything about them, so why worry about it?”
When the season started, Rivers had these grand plans of resting his players. But then injuries took a toll and made it impossible.
Now the regular season is winding down, making it “tougher” to rest anyone.
“Having said that, there are a couple of games in March that we’ve already circled that depending on how they are feeling, we feel like we should probably rest,” Rivers said. “And we have to watch to see how their minutes go up to those games. But we’ve already identified for sure two [games] that we’ve got to think about. And not even what player. We’ve just got to watch who’s playing the most or the hardest and give them rest.”
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