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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 Terrelle Pryor Sr. Color Rush Jersey , 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, 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, 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 Denard Span Seattle Mariners Jersey , 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, 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.

Sports rivalries between California teams are always intense. When it comes to hockey there isn’t much of a history, but that’s about to change.

North meets South when the San Jose Sharks visit the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of a first-round Western Conference matchup on Thursday night at Honda Center

This is the 14th playoff series between California teams and only the second between San Jose and Anaheim. It will be nearly impossible to top the first series.

In 2009, the Sharks entered the postseason as Presidents’ Trophy winners and with franchise records of 53 wins and 117 points. The eighth-seeded Ducks pulled off the upset in six games.

This season, Anaheim (44-25-13) finished on a 10-1-1 run to ease past San Jose and the Los Angeles Kings into second place in the Pacific Division.

“If we didn’t have success Authentic Mark Walton Jersey , we might not even be qualified for the playoffs,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told the team’s official website.

San Jose (45-27-10) reached 100 points for the first time in coach Peter DeBoer’s three seasons but enters the playoffs on a 1-4-1 slump after a season-high eight-game winning streak.

“We’re drawing probably one of the top teams in the league, and it’s a great test for us,” DeBoer said Monday.

The Sharks went 3-0-1 versus the Ducks in the regular season, with three games going to a shootout. DeBoer is not expecting an easy series.

“They had 101 points, and that was without (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Ryan) Kesler (hip injury) for big parts of the season, so they’re probably a 110-point team at the end of the day,” he said.

Carlyle, who led Anaheim to its only Stanley Cup title in 2007, gave his insight on the Sharks.

“They’re a skating, well-coached hockey club,” he told the Orange County Register. “Lots of balance. They’re not a flashy team by any means but they’ve got a lot of depth through their lineup. They play a high-tempo game.”

San Jose’s offense is powered by Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns, who overcame a slow start — seven assists in his first 19 games — to lead the team with 67 points. Wings Joe Pavelski (66 points) and Logan Couture (team-high 34 goals Zack Greinke Jersey , 61 points) also figured prominently.

Sharks winger Evander Kane, the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, will make his postseason debut. Kane had nine goals and five assists in 17 games after being acquired in February from the Buffalo Sabres.

“In the short period he’s been here, he’s brought speed, which backs teams off. He’s brought a physical presence, which keeps people honest,” DeBoer said Monday.

For the second straight season, winger Rickard Rakell was Anaheim’s top goal scorer, this time with a career-high 34.

Getzlaf appeared in only 56 games — he missed 19 between late October and mid-December after facial surgery — and tied a career low with 11 goals, but also put up 50 assists. He has 118 points (37 goals, 81 assists) in 121 career playoff games.

Anaheim also got 20 goals this season from winger Ondrej Kase — a seventh-round draft pick in 2014 — and 20 from center Adam Henrique after he was picked up in a late November trade from the New Jersey Devils.

Both teams have solid options in goal, but the Ducks may have the better tandem.

Anaheim’s John Gibson set a career best with 31 wins and posted a 2.43 goals-against average in 60 games, while Ryan Miller went 12-6-6 with a 2.35 GAA and owns 28 career playoff wins.

San Jose’s Martin Jones reached 30 wins for the third time in as many seasons with the club despite a career-worst 2.55 GAA. Aaron Dell Youth Connor Williams Jersey , who won 15 games in his second season, has never played a minute in the postseason.

Both teams will miss key players. For the Ducks, defenseman Cam Fowler (eight goals, 24 assists) is expected to sit out the first round with a shoulder injury.

“The one thing they have is depth,” DeBoer said of Anaheim’s defensemen. “If (Fowler’s) in, he’s a great player. If he isn’t, they have a lot of great players.”

The bulk of the Ducks’ blue-line scoring comes from Josh Manson (career-high 37 points), Brandon Montour (career-high 32 points) and Hampus Lindholm (31 points).

San Jose will still be without Joe Thornton. The 20-year-veteran center has not played since suffering a right knee injury in late January. Nine months earlier, Thornton needed surgery to repair the MCL and ACL in his left knee.

“Not for Game 1, and that’s as far as we’ll go,” DeBoer said Tuesday.

Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday at Honda Center.

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