NBA playoff update: Clippers' dreams taking on water

The L.A. Clippers keep running into buzzsaws. L.A. has now lost three straight, though those games came against the Rockets, Thunder, and Blazers, all quite hot right now. (The Blazers have won 13 straight!) Those losses have dropped the Clippers into 10th place in the West, two games out of the No. 8 seed. The bad news is that L.A. has one more really tough game: a Tuesday date with the Timberwolves. At least it offers an opportunity to make up ground.

If there’s any consolation for L.A.’s turn of fortune, it’s that the Denver Nuggets are in struggle mode, too. The Nuggets went out and began a season-defining 7-game road trip by … losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, who hadn’t won a game in six weeks. Just brutal. That dropped Denver into the No. 9 spot by 1.5 games.

Here’s what the Western Conference NBA playoffs bracket looks like after the weekend action.

Rockets (1) vs. Timberwolves (8)
Thunder (4) vs. Jazz (5)
Blazers (3) vs. Pelicans (6)
Warriors (2) vs. Spurs (7)

In the East, the Indiana Pacers had a minor two-game skid, losing to the Raptors and in a meaningful game against the Wizards. Those losses helped the Cleveland Cavaliers climb back into the No. 3 seed, which the 3-time defending East champs hold by just one game in the loss column over Indiana and Washington. The Philadelphia 76ers are tied with the Pacers and Wizards in the loss column as well.

The Raptors have essentially locked up the No. 1 seed, and the Celtics will almost certainly be No. 2 (despite continued injury issues). Because Boston has been so hammered by health, the No. 7 seed would appear much more attractive than No. 8. The Bucks are one game up on the Heat in the loss column with a little over three weeks to go.

Here’s what the East bracket looks like.

Raptors (1) vs. Heat (8)
Wizards (4) vs. Pacers (5)
Cavaliers (3) vs. Sixers (6)
Celtics (2) vs. Bucks (7)

With eight games on Monday, there are plenty of playoff implications. Five of the six teams with something to play for in the East are in action (everyone but the Wizards) and two of the eight teams in the Western quagmire have games.

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