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Clippers-Trailblazers Preview: The Fight for Home-Court Advantage

Blake Griffin would tell you that the Los Angeles Clippers have no home-court advantage, but this is exactly what is on the line this evening as the Clippers look to defeat the Trailblazers in Portland and bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Warriors.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2014/2015 NBA Regular Season

April 1, 2015, 7:00 PM
Moda Center
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown (2014-15)
19-11 East 20-9
30-15 West 28-16
27-11 Home 30-7
22-15 Road 18-18
19-21 .500+ 23-18
30-5 .500- 25-7
7-3 L10 5-5
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Damian Lillard
J.J. Redick SG Aaron Afflalo
Matt Barnes SF Nicolas Batum
Blake Griffin PF LaMarcus Aldridge
DeAndre Jordan C Chris Kaman
Advanced Stats (2014-2015)
94.8 (9th of 30) Pace 94.1 (12th of 30)
112.1 (1st of 30) ORtg 108.0 (7th of 30)
105.6 (17th of 30) DRtg 103.1 (5th of 30)
Jamal Crawford (calf) out

Wesley Matthews (Achilles) out for season

The Back Story (The Clippers lead the series 2-1):

Date Venue Final
11/8/14 Staples Clipers 106, Blazers 102 Recap Box
1/14/15 Portland Clippers 100, Blazers 94 Recap Box
3/4/15 Staples Clippers 93, Blazers 98 Recap

The Big Picture:

Simply put, the Clippers need to bounce back in the worst way from the debacle last night at Staples Center against the Warriors.  Blake Griffin needs to have another big game tonight, but let's all hope that he gets some more help from his teammates.  Home-court advantage hangs in the balance, as the Clippers and Trailblazers are statistically tied in the standings.  The Clippers need to keep racking up wins.

The Antagonist:

The Blazers are riddled with injuries but still very dangerous.  This is a talented squad. A key players, Wesley Matthews, has been lost for the season with a torn Achilles.  He is a 3 and D player, but Aaron Afflalo should fill this role nicely for Portland.  However, this loss guts their depth to an extent.  LaMarcus Aldridge is having another wonderful year, but he is playing through injuries on his hand.  He has delayed surgery to try to make a playoff run with this squad.  Damien Lillard is a dangerous player, and Chris Paul needs to contain him.  In previous matchups, Paul done a great job defensively on Lillard.

Key Subplots:

  • Will Nic Batum bury the Clippers from deep yet again? This seems to be a trend with him.  Batum had been struggling from behind-the-arc all season, yet he came to life in the previous meeting with the Clippers
  • Griffin vs. Aldridge.  This is a meeting of two of the marquee power forwards in the west.  Both of these players are in the top 3 in this position.  Aldridge's length bothers Griffin, so we will likely see Jordan on him.  Speaking of Jordan, let's all hope he has a better game in Portland than he did last night in Los Angeles when he was Mr. Invisible. 
  • Paul vs. Lillard.  These two players have very different styles, but both mean so much to their respective teams.
  • The 3-ball. Both of these teams love to shoot the long ball.  This game could come down to who makes more of these shots.
  • The bench. The starters were forced to play a ton of minutes last night due to the shoddy play of the bench (recurring theme all season).  Can the bench rescue the starters tonight and let them get some much needed rest?
  • Comparison of Key Metrics.  The teams are both elite offensively, but the Blazers have been better defensively.  This game will likely be full of offensive fireworks, but the Clippers will need to get stops.