Usually when I hear talk of NBA teams tanking games, I figure the discussion involves the Knicks (whom to be fair, usually don’t totally give up until shortly after the start of the 3rd quarter). The LA Times’ Jason Reid sheds light on a slightly more relevant case.
On the opening tip tonight at FedEx Forum, will the Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies go after the ball?
OK, they probably will. But with Western Conference postseason seedings still at stake in the season’s final days, it wouldn’t be surprising if the teams’ efforts did not meet their normal standards in these strange times for the two teams.
In an intriguing twist, the Clippers might benefit more from losing in this matchup of playoff-bound teams. They potentially would have a better first-round draw, including home-court advantage against the third-seeded Denver Nuggets, if they were seeded sixth instead of fifth, creating what seems to be an awkward situation.
The team that finishes sixth in the West would avoid a first-round encounter against the fourth-place team, the formidable Dallas Mavericks, who have the second-best record in the conference but are in the same division with San Antonio, which clinched the West’s top mark with a victory over Utah on Monday.
“People keep saying that it would be better to finish here or there, but I keep saying be careful what you wish for because you might get it,” Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We just want to be playing as well as we possibly can going into the playoffs.”
Of course, things would be different if playoff seedings were based only on records.
“It should be seeded accorded to record and go from there,” Dunleavy said. “It is what it is now, but that’s the way it should be in the future.”