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Clippers-Hawks Preview: Shooting for three straight

The Clippers want and need to make it three straight wins against the Hawks this afternoon at STAPLES Center before the upcoming schedule turns brutal.

2012/2013 NBA Regular Season

November 11th, 2012, 12:30 PM
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Clippers Tickets
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Jeff Teague
Willie Green SG Kyle Korver
Caron Butler SF Josh Smith
Blake Griffin PF Al Horford
DeAndre Jordan C Zaza Pachulia
Advanced Stats through Nov. 10
95.2 (5th of 30) Pace 91.7 (22nd of 30)
109.6 (4th of 30) ORtg 104.7 (10th of 30)
102.1 (15th of 30) DRtg 105.0 (21st of 30)
Chauncey Billups (Achilles surgery) out
Johan Petro (back) out
Trey Thompkins (knee) out

Grant Hill (knee) out

The Back Story:

The teams have yet to meet this season. The teams split their two meetings last season, each winning at home.

The Big Picture:

Six games into the season, the Clippers have won two, lost two, and won two. Hopefully they can break that pattern and put together a three game winning streak this afternoon. In fact, with a murderer's row of opponents looming (Miami, Chicago, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are the next four games) it's pretty important to win this one. In the last two wins against San Antonio and Portland, the Clippers have looked good -- at times even great. They continue to push the pace, their defense is forcing steals and long shots which are leading to opportunities to run, and Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan have been outstanding. If they can just figure out how to get Blake Griffin going (and maybe get SOMETHING out of Lamar Odom) they will look even better.

The Antagonist:

The Hawks are a very different team than the one that has hung around on the second tier of Eastern Conference teams for the last five or so seasons. Joe Johnson (along with his massive contract) is in Brooklyn, traded in a deal that has returned just Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson so far; Marvin Williams was traded to Utah for Devin Harris. They still have Al Horford and Josh Smith, and Jeff Teague seems to be turning into a nice point guard -- but clearly the moves they made this summer were about saving some money now, and maybe having a chance to be good later (they did get a first round pick in the Johnson trade). I kind of agree with the changes they made this summer -- though they are the ones who gave Joe Johnson a $120M contract just two years ago.

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers continue to play at a blistering pace -- particularly when compared to last season. The Hawks have been playing much slower (which seems counter-intuitive for a team with Teague and Smith) so a key will be to see which team gets the pace they want. The Clippers offensive efficiency is top 5 in the league, which is no surprise. At least the defensive efficiency is now better than the league average. It would be a good goal to keep it there.
  • Lamar Odom. Wow did Odom look bad against Portland. That's three straight games where he's looked pretty terrible. The scary thing to think about is what happens if Odom gets discouraged with a lack of playing time and with his own ineffectiveness. Lamar has always worn his heart on his sleeve -- he could conceivable shut down if things don't start looking up.
  • Crawford. Jamal Crawford had his best season in the NBA as a Hawk three years ago when he won the Sixth Man Award. In fact it was Atlanta where he found his real NBA niche as a bench scorer; he'd been a starter for most of his career before he landed with the Hawks. As well as he played when he was in Atlanta, he's been even better in six games with the Clippers. He's currently second in the NBA in per minute scoring behind only Carmelo Anthony, and he's also scoring with ridiculous efficiency, which has never been a strength of his in the past.
  • The Crawford reunion tour. The Hawks make three former Crawford teams in four games for the Clippers (along with the Warriors and Blazers). Chicago is in a week -- that will only leave New York of JCrossover's former employers.
  • Early start. This is the Clippers first matinee of the season. These games can sometimes have a lethargic feel. The crowd isn't always into it, the players can have trouble getting going so early. After two losses in less than energetic outings, the Clippers can ill afford to come out flat today so let's hope it's not a problem.
  • Anthony Morrow. Morrow was one of the players the Hawks received for Johnson. He's only appeared in half of the Hawks games this season, but Clipper fans remember all too well the huge games he's had against the LAC in the past.
  • ZaZa! I'm going to try to get everyone to spell ZaZa! Pachulia's name a new way -- two capitals Zs and and exclamation point at the end. I just like it better that way, don't you? And just ZaZa! You don't need a last name when your first name is ZaZa!
  • Hawks starting lineup. Head coach Larry Drew seems to be going a bit situational with his lineup this season. Against big teams he starts ZaZa! at the five and slides everyone over a spot, while against smaller teams he sits ZaZa! and starts DeShawn Stevenson at the two. Against the Clippers I am assuming that he will go big, but we'll see.
  • Win some, lose some. The Hawks last two games have been interesting. Against the Pacers, they were behind 14 with a little over six minutes left when they went on an 18-0 run to steal the game. Then Friday night against the Heat they came back to take a two point lead late,only to watch Miami close the game on a 10-2 run.
  • Jordan. DeAndre Jordan is coming off the best back to back games of his career by far: a combined 41 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks while shooting 18-22 from the field. He's even working on a string of five consecutive made free throws after missing his first eight of the season. It would be amazing to see him put another great game together today. It could happen -- ZaZa! should have trouble with his athleticism and Horford could have trouble with his size.
  • Get the Hawks perspective at Peachtree Hoops.
  • Lyrical reference:

    Crazy Faith -- Alison Krauss and Union Station

    Love your losing, lose your love
    Let the hawk fly from the glove
    Then do not search the skies above
    Search your crazy faith

    I don't consider myself a fan of bluegrass per se, but I like good music in any form. And Alison Krauss is good music. Make that great music.