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#pounditTuesday, December 7, 2021

Are Clippers tanking to avoid the Lakers?

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers’ actions on Friday night were so suspicious that many were left wondering whether they are tanking to avoid the Lakers in the playoffs.

The Clippers entered play on Friday as the No. 3 seed, leading the Denver Nuggets by a game in the standings. The Clippers were also playing the Houston Rockets, who have the worst record in the league.

And guess what? The Clippers gave Paul George and Kawhi Leonard the night off. Pat Beverley and Reggie Jackson were among their other players who did not play.

The Clippers lost the game 122-115. Meanwhile, Denver beat Detroit 104-91 to move into a tie with the Clippers for the No. 3 spot. The Nuggets hold the tiebreaker advantage over the the Clippers, putting LAC into the No. 4 spot.

So why is that significant? The Clippers now control their fate. If they lose on Sunday at Oklahoma City, they will end up in the No. 4 spot. Being in the No. 4 spot would ensure avoiding the Lakers in the first round.

The Lakers enter Saturday a half-game behind Portland for the No. 6 spot. Whether the Lakers end up in the No. 6 or No. 7 spot, whatever team is No. 4 would avoid the defending champions in the first round. They would also likely avoid the Lakers until the conference finals.

The Lakers may be dealing with injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but teams still don’t want to face them.

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