3/14 Atlanta Hawks vs Los Angeles Clippers Game Night Preview: All You Need to Know

Jan 2, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) defends as Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson (2) drives toward the basket during the second half of the game at Staples Center. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 101-98. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Who?: Atlanta Hawks (6th in East) vs Los Angeles Clippers (5th in West)

When?: March 14 2012; 10:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Where?: Staples Center (Los Angeles, CA)

How?: SportSouth HD (TV) & 680 AM (93.7 radio)

Other Atlanta Hawks Coverage: Atlanta Hawks Fan Site, AJC Blog, Peachtree Hoops (SB Nation), Hoopinion (TrueHoop)

Los Angeles Clippers Blogs :  Clipper Blog (TrueHoop), Clips Nation (SB Nation)

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Projected Starting Lineups:

Atlanta Hawks:

PG: Jeff Teague | SG: Kirk Hinrich | C: Zaza Pachulia | PF: Josh Smith | SF: Joe Johnson

Los Angeles Clippers:

PG: Chris Paul | SG: Randy Foye | C: Deandre Jordan | PF: Blake Griffin | SF: Caron Butler

Injury Report:

Atlanta: Al Horford (left pectoral surgery), Jason Collins (sprained left elbow), Willie Green (back), and Marvin Williams (hip flexor) are out.  Ivan Johnson is not with the team for personal reasons.

Los Angeles: Chauncey Billups (torn left achilles) is out.

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Current Records/Streak & Hot, Lukewarm, or Cold:

Records: The Atlanta Hawks are (24-18) and the Los Angeles Clippers are (23-17).

Streak: The Hawks are on a 1 game losing streak, and the Clippers are on a 2 game losing streak.

Away/Home: The Hawks are (12-12) on the road, and the Clippers are (12-7) at home.

Against .500+ teams: The Atlanta Hawks are (8-13) against teams with winning records while the Los Angeles Clippers are (12-10).

Against Non-Conference teams: The Atlanta Hawks are (6-8) against Western Conference teams, and the Los Angeles Clippers are (9-4) against Eastern Conference teams.

Atlanta Hawks- Unknown. I can’t call them hot. I can’t call them cold. Nor can I call them warm or heating up. The Hawks lost last night’s match-up against the Denver Nuggets, but honestly, it was a better game than I expected from the Hawks.

Los Angeles Clippers- Pretty cold. The Clippers have struggled since Chauncey Billups went down with an achilles injury, and it shows in their record. They looked like the 2nd or 3rd best team in the West with Billups, but without Billups, there are even talks about them not making playoffs (highly unlikely though in my opinion). The Clippers are on a 2 game losing streak, and have lost 4 out of their last 5 and 5 out of their last 7.

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Season/Past Season Series:

This will be the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. They’ll play in Los Angeles once, and they’ll play in Atlanta once (April 24th).

The Hawks swept and won last season’s series 2-0. The Hawks currently own an overall four game win streak vs the Clippers and a 3 game streak when it’s played in Staples Center. The last time the Clippers won vs Hawks in Staples Center was in January of 2008.

Game Preview:

This will be the last game of the 6 game road trip, and it’s not an easy one, as they go to “Lob City” and face CP3 and Blake Griffin.

The Hawks, who didn’t play horrible yesterday, has to play even better tonight. They got huge contributions offensively from Johnson, Smith, and Hinrich and the Hawks will definitely need something close to those contributions tonight.

But more importantly, the Hawks have to play better defense. They gave up 60 points in the paint last night. The perimeter defense was non-existent and the interior defense didn’t provide much help. They can’t allow that tonight, especially against a Clippers team that has a quick and penetrating guard in Chris Paul, a slasher in Caron Butler, and two athletic front court players in Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Caron Butler has been struggling though. He’s been shooting a horrible 27% since the All-Star break, yikes! Still, he’s someone to look out for. Asides from Joe Johnson, there’s not one Hawks player that can match-up with him.

Anyway, I’m excited for this game. It has a lot of match-ups that I will enjoy like….

  • The battle of the two Wake Forest PG’s, Jeff Teague vs Chris Paul
  • The battle of the two short shooting guards, Hinrich vs Foye
  • The battle of two of the best Power Forwards in the NBA, Smith vs Griffin
  • The battle of two point guards coming off the bench, Pargo vs Mo Williams
  • The battle of two coaches that get criticize too much, Larry Drew vs Vinny Del Negro
  • The battle of my past and the present, Atlanta vs Southern California (Georgia is always on my mind!)

Oh yeah, another reason why I’m looking forward to this game? This will also be the last 10:30 PM (Eastern time) game of the season for the Hawks! Thank you God!

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3 Things I’m Looking Out For:

  • Josh Smith vs Blake Griffin.  I’ve marked this game in my calendar some time ago, simply because I was really excited to see two of the most athletic Power Forwards in the NBA go up against each other. I’m sure both Blake Griffin and Josh Smith circled this date as well. It’s just a great match-up. Two young, exciting, athletic, and top power forwards go up against each other tonight. My guess? Josh Smith wins this match-up tonight.
  • Kirk Hinrich. Kirk Hinrich had an amazing game last night, the best of the season. It would be nice to get confirmation tonight that Hinrich is back to last season’s form. He’s looked pretty horrible (Pargo even looked better…) this season to say the least. Also, he might draw the assignment to guard Chris Paul. Teague is the quicker point guard, but Hinrich has always been the more reliable defender. Let’s hope Hinrich continues to show us that he can be and will be a pretty major contributor to the Hawks late this season and in the post-season.
  • Larry Drew’s rotation.  Larry Drew’s rotation was pretty short last night. He ran his starters to the ground, having four of the five starters play at least 41 minutes and having all five starters play at least 36 minutes. Well, Larry Drew’s rotation will still be pretty short tonight, due to injuries and other personal reasons (Willie Green, Marvin Williams, Jason Collins, and Ivan Johnson are all out). Meaning, the bench will be short again. Larry Drew only has Jannero Pargo, Tracy McGrady, Vladimir Radmanovic, Erick Dampier, and Jerry Stackhouse to choose from. Not exactly world class talent. So will Larry Drew once again run his starters to the ground tonight even though it’s the second night of a back-to-back?
  • EXTRA! Losing Marvin Williams last night is tough, especially for tonight. The Clippers have no size in the shooting guard position, so I was hoping Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks would take advantage of that. Unfortunately, with Marvin out, Joe Johnson is probably going to be forced to play Small Forward for most of the game, which the Clippers have no problem matching up size wise.

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Topics: Atlanta Hawks, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, Chris Paul, Jannero Pargo, Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich, Los Angeles Clippers, Mo Williams, Randy Foye

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