If the Los Angeles Clippers hope to hold onto the Western Conference’s final playoff spot, they will have to play well enough down the stretch to stave off the teams that remain hot on their tail.
For the Clippers (36-29), that means continuing to play as well on the road beginning Tuesday at the United Center as they did when they won four of six on their recent homestand.
“Tough games, every game,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times after a victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday. “We’ve just got to keep our focus. We’ve got the one game at a time mantra, which we’ve kept all year.”
As much as the Bulls have struggled this season as they begin a multiyear rebuilding effort, the Clippers — who will also face the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder on back-to-back nights later this week — can’t afford to overlook its first stop of its three-game road swing in Chicago.
With 17 regular-season games left and with virtually no room for serious error to remain in playoff contention, the Clippers understand the importance of building off the momentum they have established in their past 10 games.
“We’ve got a tough stretch coming up,” Clippers guard Lou Williams told the Times. “So to go on the road with a couple of wins under our belt, it feels good.”
Chicago (23-43) has dropped seven of its past 10 games but is coming off a come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Establishing consistency and cohesiveness has not been easy for the Bulls since the All-Star break when team executives committed to spending the remainder of the regular season experimenting with a variety of combinations to go along with Chicago’s young core of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and rookie Lauri Markkanen.