By Phil Collin
It’s scramble time for the Clippers, who can still move up to a more advantageous position for the postseason as they head into their final two games of the regular season.
It starts tonight at Staples Center against Portland (Prime Ticket, TNT), which brings an 11-game losing streak into the game. The Clippers can win twice and earn the third seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, but they at least want to earn home-court advantage for the first round in any case.
“I focus in on us tonight and tomorrow night,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Both games, we have to have our mindset right, take care of our business and everything else falls into place.”
The Clippers are coming off a road win over Memphis, which could be their first-round opponent. That gave the Clippers a 3-1 series win for the season over the Grizzlies.
“You gain confidence by winning,” Del Negro said. “We had slipped up a few times against some of the top teams in the West since the All-Star break. We lost tough on the road to Dallas, tough on the road to San Antonio but you’ve got to finish those games out. We weren’t able to do that.
The Clippers will start Chauncey Billups at guard. Billups has been inactive for each of the past eight games with a strained groin. In addition, forward Caron Butler, fighting a sore right knee, is also in the starting lineup.