LOS ANGELES — A bunched up Western Conference has the New Orleans Pelicans knowing there is plenty to play for with two games remaining in the regular season.
With a victory Monday at Los Angeles against the Clippers Brendan Leipsic Jersey Kids , the Pelicans would move one win away from clinching at least the No. 5 seed in the conference. They could even move up to No. 4 with a little help from opponents playing the Utah Jazz, who are currently in fourth place.
But the jammed pack conference also means a backward slide could take a heavy toll. The Pelicans were officially fifth in the conference before Sunday’s games, with teams in fifth, sixth (Spurs), and seventh (Thunder) all possessing 46-34 records.
Denver was in ninth place in the conference, just outside a playoff spot Ryan Callahan Jersey , but was just one game behind the Pelicans in the standings.
If anything, the Pelicans are soaring into Los Angeles behind their hard-earned victory at Golden State on Saturday.
“Knowing this was like a playoff game and a playoff atmosphere, knowing where we are in the playoff race and knowing we haven’t won (at Golden State) in a while, (it) was a big confidence booster,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We knew we’d probably have to win four games of the last five to make sure we solidify a spot in the playoffs.”
It remains to be seen what type of Clippers team the Pelicans will run into. Monday’s matchup had been shaping up to be a big one between Western Conference playoff contenders Eric Staal Jersey , but a recent Clippers slide officially eliminated them from their seventh consecutive playoff appearance.
The Clippers (42-38) could be a team intent on showing they still have something to prove, even if the playoffs are out of the question, or they could exhale knowing their late-season chase has ended.
The Clippers might have lost four of their last five games, but after considering what he might do with the season winding down, coach Doc Rivers suggested that his team will not treat the Pelicans with indifference.
“We have two games left and I don’t even know how I’m going to approach those games,” Rivers told the assembled media after Saturday’s loss to the Nuggets. “I may play all the starters Miles Wood Jersey , I may play all the young guys and just let them get minutes.
“I think I have to play the guys against New Orleans, honestly. I think we really have to go after that game. I just believe in protecting the league. That’s what we should do, and I hope we do that.”
The Clippers will conclude the season with four point guards on injured reserve: Patrick Beverley (knee), Avery Bradley (groin), Milos Teodosic (foot) and Jawun Evans (abdomen). Even leading scorer Lou Williams is ailing with an ankle injury and was listed as day-to-day. Forward Danilo Gallinari is also day-to-day with a hand injury.
The Pelicans have made their playoff push despite losing DaMarcus Cousins (Achilles) for the season. Guard Ian Clark is dealing with an ankle injury.
The NFL has suspended free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez for the first four games of next season for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances.
The league announced the punishment Friday. He is eligible to participate in offseason and preseason practices and games.
Sanchez says on Instagram he was "blind-sided" and has "never cheated or attempted to gain a competitive advantage by using a banned performance enhancing substance." He says he has been "subject to 73 drug tests" and "all but one have been clean."
He attributed the result to "unknowing supplement contamination, not the use of performance enhancing substances."
Sanchez spent last season as Chicago's third-string quarterback. He has also played for the New York Jets (2009-13) Rick Nash Jersey , Philadelphia (2014-15) and Dallas (2016).
The 31-year-old quarterback was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft and helped lead the Jets to the AFC championship game during his first two seasons. He has been mostly a backup since being released by New York after the 2013 season, starting just 10 games over the last four years.
Sanchez has thrown for 15,219 yards and 86 touchdowns with 86 interceptions during his career. He did not play in a game for the Bears last season.