NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 10th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (29-48) at Los Angeles Clippers (51-26), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Clippers clinched their first Pacific Division crown earlier in the week, but still have a lot to play for, starting Wednesday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Clippers sit fourth in the Western Conference, although they are two games behind the Denver Nuggets for the third seed. There's a huge difference between the seeds as most likely the fourth seed will play either the Memphis Grizzlies or Nuggets, as opposed to the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets, depending on which team gets the sixth seed.
One of the most important pieces for the Clippers returned to the practice court on Tuesday.
Chauncey Billups hit the court for the first time since aggravating his right groin injury on March 27. The Clippers are unsure of Billups' availability on Wednesday.
"We definitely want him back as soon as possible, but at the end of the day we want him healthy," guard Chris Paul said. "We plan on playing for a while so we want him to be as fresh and healthy as possible. Him coming back for some games gives us more of a rhythm and I think gives us confidence, too."
The Clippers clinched the Pacific Division on Sunday against their co-tenants at the Staples Center - the Lakers. The Clips buried the Lakers 109-95 to earn the first Pacific title in the 42-year history of the franchise and polished off the first season sweep of the Lakers since the 1974-75 season when the Clippers were the Buffalo Braves.
"This is my first division win, but we kind of had the mindset that this was what we're supposed to do," Blake Griffin said.
The Timberwolves fell to the Golden State Warriors 105-89 on Tuesday to get the Warriors into the postseason. It was the first game for Minnesota since head coach Rick Adelman earned his 1,000th career victory.
"They have a great shooting team, but I still think it was our impatience offensively more than anything else," Adelman said of the Warriors loss. "We got impatient the last three minutes of the second quarter and whole third quarter. They just opened it up."
Chase Budinger led the way for the T'Wolves with 17 points. Andrei Kirilenko chipped in 15, followed by 13 from J.J. Barea and 11 from Dante Cunningham.
Kirilenko was the only starter to score in double digits. Derrick Williams, Nikola Pekovic, Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio combined for just 23 points as Minny shot 36.7 percent from the field.
The Clippers have won all three matchups this season with Minnesota and four in a row overall. Minnesota has lost five of its last seven as the visitor in this series.
04/10 10:21:03 ET