Chauncey Billups out again for Clippers; vows to be back before playoffs

By Vincent Bonsignore

No one needs to tell Chauncey Billups how important the next eight days are to the Clippers. With five games to play in that span – including Wednesday’s home game against Minnesota – and the Clippers still in a fight with Memphis and Denver in the Western Conference playoff race they’ve reached a critical stage of the regular season.

Billups knows that, and he understands the difference he can make when he’s on the floor with the Clippers.

On the other hand, the aggravated right groin strain he suffered March 27 against New Orleans still isn’t quite right, and with the Clippers eyeing a long playoff run he knows he needs to be as healthy as possible when the postseason opens in 10 days.

Which is why he reluctantly didn’t suit up against the Timberwolves Wednesday and why he still won’t pinpoint a definite return, other than to say he’ll be ready when the Clippers open their first-round playoff series.

“Oh yeah,” Billups said. “I’ll be back before then.”

But until he’s certain he won’t aggravate the injury again and jeopardize his availability for the postseason, Billups won’t push it.

“We’re just taking it day by day, testing it, pushing it,” said Billups, who missed his sixth straight game.

That said, Billups practiced Tuesday with his teammates and continues to ratchet up his activity. His groin withstood the added work load, which included light scrimmaging, and he reported no issues by Wednesday evening.

The goal now is to carry that comfort level through another workout and another day of assessment.

At that point, a return is likely.

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