Clippers Vs. Hawks - Game Preview - L.A. Will Try to Avoid a Third Straight Loss

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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23-17
24-18
STAPLES Center
March 13th, 2011, 7:30 PM
FSN West , KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG Jeff Teague
Randy Foye
PG Kirk Hinrich
Caron Butler SF Joe Johnson
Blake Griffin PF Josh Smith
DeAndre Jordan C Zaza Pachulia

The Back Story:

First of two meetings this season. The Hawks swept both game last season.

The Big Picture:

It's beginning to get desperate in Clips Nation. The Clippers have lost 4 of 5 and 8 of 12. More disconcerting, the team no longer has any discernible home court advantage. After winning 10 of their first 12 at home, they've no lost 5 out of 7. They're winless two games into a season long six game homestand that was supposed to help them get back on track, but instead has only deepened their funk. Aside from the win in San Antonio, when everyone on the roster was red-hot, the Clippers can't seem to get a majority of the team to play well on any given night. Monday night against Boston the team shot 37% and only Blake Griffin and Mo Williams had even decent games. Chris Paul was 3 for 12 with 5 assists and 4 turnovers in one of his worst performances as a Clipper. It goes without saying that the Clippers need for Paul to play well in order to be competitive. The Lakers won in double-overtime in Memphis last night, their third straight close win, and have now opened up a two game lead in the Pacific Division. The Clippers can't afford to stay in their current stupor much longer unless they want to start worrying about simply making the playoffs as opposed to thinking about a Division title and a high seed. The defense continues to be atrocious, and if they are going to turn things around, it will have to start there. The only game they've won in the last five was in San Antonio when they shot the lights out -- and they can't plan on that kind of shooting every night, because it's just not going to happen. They need to get stops.

The Antagonist:

The Hawks began the season believing that they could compete with Miami and Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and the early results were indeed promising. But when All-Star Al Horford tore his pectoral muscle on January 11 and was lost for the season, Atlanta's outlook changed significantly. The Hawks will still make the playoffs in the East, where there are really only seven good teams -- but now they're struggling in the middle of the pack with Philadelphia, Indiana and Boston and in danger of missing out on a top four seed in the postseason. The Hawks are led by Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, who each average over 17 points per game. Atlanta is 24-18 overall, but only 6-8 against the Western Conference.

The Subplots

  • Tonight's Special Guest Recapper: Citizen johnnyoc21.
  • Questionable Blogger. Be sure to read the Q&A we did with Jason Walker of the Hawks blog Peachtree Hoops. And check over there also for my answer to his questions.
  • Key Hawks Metrics:
    Pace: 90.3 (20th of 30 NBA Teams)
    Off Rtg: 101.9 (21st of 30)
    Def Rtg: 99.9 (5th of 30)
  • Key Clippers Metrics:
    Pace: 89.7 (26th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.0 (4th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 106.0 (21st of 30)
    So this is interesting, right? The two teams are almost mirror opposites. The Hawks have a top five defense and a bottom ten offense. The Clippers have a top five offense and a bottom ten defense. It could make for an interesting matchup. Oh, and how about that Clippers defense? It just keeps getting worse.
  • DVR Alert. The game is on Fox Sports West, not Prime Ticket. Adjust your DVRs accordingly. While you're in there, you might want to make sure you're covered for Thursday night's game also, which is on TNT.
  • Two game losing streak. The Clippers have yet to lose three consecutive games this season. They've now had two losses in a row four times (three times in just the last dozen games), but they always manage to get a win in the next one. Fingers crossed that continues tonight.
  • Trade Deadline. The first domino has fallen, as Monta Ellis has been traded from Golden State to Milwaukee for Andrew Bogut. With the trade deadline on Thursday, things should start heating up at this point. Josh Smith has said he wants out of Atlanta, but the Hawks seem determined to keep him. Marvin Williams and Kirk Hinrich have also been mentioned in trade talk. As for the Clippers, Randy Foye is in the delicate position of being the starting shooting guard on a team actively trying to upgrade their shooing guard. Foye is also an expiring contract, so he may be the bait in any trade the Clippers make. The real question is whether they front office will trade away second year guard Eric Bledsoe for some help this year, or hang onto him and continue to develop him.
  • OT in Denver. The Hawks lost a tough one in Denver last night in overtime. The Denver-LA back-to-back is never easy -- it's brutal after an OT loss. All of the Atlanta starters played at least 41 minutes except for Josh Smith who fouled out. This is a real break for the Clippers, as the Hawks could be exhausted. LA is their final stop of a six game road trip.
  • Wake Forest Point Guards. With apologies to Delaney Rudd and Muggsy Bogues, tonight's game pits arguably the two best point guards to come out of Wake Forest against each other. Chris Paul is obviously in that category, and while it may be a bit early to elevate Jeff Teague to that level, he is having a fine season for the Hawks in just his third year in the league. I guess he may still have a ways to go to be called better than Bogues, but he's got a chance. By the way, does anyone else remember Randolph Childress? He was at Wake Forest with Rodney Rogers, and he was so good in college that I thought he was going to be a great pro, but he never really panned out.
  • Last meeting. The last time these two teams met a year ago February in Atlanta the Clippers suffered one of their more disappointing defeats of last season. In a back and forth game, the Clippers had battled back from a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead in the waning seconds, only to lose the game on the final play. (Why does that sound familiar?) With seconds remaining, Horford faked giving the ball back to Johnson and wheeled down the lane where Blake Griffin fouled him hard. It was ruled a flagrant foul and Johnson made both free throws to give Atlanta the one point win.
  • Hawks lineup. After starting the first 36 games of the season, Marvin Williams has come off the bench the last two, with Joe Johnson sliding over to the small forward and Kirk Hinrich moving into the starting lineup. Williams will miss the game against the Clippers (as will Willie Green) after suffering a thigh bruise in Denver last night. This is good news for the Clippers, as matching up with Joe Johnson in the backcourt was going to be a nightmare for LA's teeny-tiny guards. Hinrich is no post threat, and not much of a scoring threat, so the Clippers should be OK while he's out there. But Atlanta also has Tracy McGrady and Jerry Stackhouse on the bench, both very tall guards.
  • Williams. Williams will forever be known as the guy who was drafted second overall, ahead of Deron Williams and Chris Paul. Well, it's not like the Hawks needed a point guard in that draft. Oh, wait.
  • Butler. I'm getting tired of saying it, but Caron Butler is in a terrible slump. He's shooting just 27% since the All-Star break after shooting 43% previously.
  • Hawks-Clippers connections. New Atlanta coach Larry Drew played two seasons for the Clippers in the late 80s. He replaced another former Clipper, Mike Woodson. Vladimir Radmanovic played a half a season and the 2006 playoffs with the Clippers. Jason Collins of the Hawks looks a lot like a guy who was on the Clippers last season.
  • Del Negro and Drew. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and Hawks coach Larry Drew faced each other five times as NBA players at the end of Drews career and the beginning of Vinny's. Drew was with the Lakers at the time while Del Negro was with the Kings, and it's no surprise that Drew's team won all five meetings.
  • Del Negro and Stackhouse. Del Negro and 37 year old Hawks guard Jerry Stackhouse faced each other 13 times during Del Negro's NBA career. They split those games pretty evenly, with Stack's team winning 7 of the meetings.
  • Guarding Griffin. Josh Smith will probably draw Griffin. Smith is one of the few power forwards in the league who's anywhere close to Blake's league in terms of athleticism. However, Smith is giving away a fair amount of size.
  • Famous Quotation:

    hawk

    n. a teenage girl who is known for her angry, selfish, stuck up and snobbish ways and is generally disliked by the entire school community.

    Ally is being such a hawk
  • Get the Hawks perspective at Peachtree Hoops.
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