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Clippers - Hawks Preview: Keeping Pace

Now tied in the loss column with Oklahoma City, every game is crucial.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
2015/16 NBA Regular Season

March 5th, 2016; 7:30 PM PST
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
19-6 East 21-17
21-14 West 13-11
21-10 Home 19-12
19-10 Road 15-16
15-13 .500+ 17-16
25-17 .500- 17-12
7-3 L10 4-6
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Jeff Teague
J.J. Redick SG Kyle Korver
Luc Mbah a Moute SF Kent Bazemore
Paul Pierce PF Paul Millsap
DeAndre Jordan C Al Horford
Advanced Stats
98.4 (13th) Pace 98.9 (10th)
106.4 (6th) ORtg 102.9 (16th)
100.4 (7th) DRtg 99.4 (2nd)

Blake Griffin (quad/hand) Out

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (right eyelid laceration) Questionable

Tiago Splitter (right hip) Out

The big picture:

Both conferences are shaping up for quite exciting races for playoff seeding to end the season.  For the Clippers, every game matters--they now sit tied in the loss column with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the current 3-seed.  Atlanta sits in 5th in the East, with 28 losses--just two away from Home-Court advantage in one direction, and two away from the lottery in the other.  It's safe to say that the stakes are high for both of these teams.

The antagonist:

After having an outstanding season last year, as the best non-Cleveland team in the East, Atlanta has fallen back into the pack, replaced by Toronto as the second-best team in a one-team conference.  Oddly, I view Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap very similarly--brilliant players who are all too often under-appreciated, partially due to their low-profile nature and somewhat late-blooming careers.  If Luc Richard Mbah a Moute does not play tonight, the Clippers will struggle a lot with Millsap.  Atlanta played the Lakers last night, but won easily, with no player breaking 30 minutes, so they shouldn't be too tired for tonight's game.

Standings watch:

We're at a point in the season where it's important to keep an eye on a lot of games and teams--Boston @ Cleveland, Indiana @ Washington, Utah @ New Orleans, Houston @ Chicago, and of course this game, Atlanta @ LA Clippers--they all have big-time playoff implications.  It's time to break out that League Pass subscription and quit your day job.