Excuse the Los Angeles Clippers if they are intent on waiting a bit before paying back a debt of gratitude to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Clippers moved into the eighth and final spot for playoff eligibility in the Western Conference when the Cavaliers defeated the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. When the Clippers play host to the Cavaliers on Friday at Staples Center, they do not intend to lose any ground in the standings.
Adding to the Clippers' sense of urgency is their defeat this week to the New Orleans Pelicans, another team they are chasing in the West. In fact, the West is so tightly bunched that four games separate spots No. 3 and No. 10 in the conference.
The Cavaliers, third in the Eastern Conference, have plenty to fight for as well. The top four teams in the standings hold home-court advantage in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. The fifth-place team in the conference, the Indiana Pacers, is 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland.
But the playoffs remain more than a month away so a focus on seeding is a bit mature. The Cavaliers will remain in the present by putting a focus on their current western swing. Adding in a visit to Chicago, the current road trip is a season-high six games.
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