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Clippers Vs. Hawks Game Thread, TV, Radio Info, And More

Atlanta Hawks 11-12 Season Game #65



40-24 38-26
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
April 24, 2012, 7:30 PM
SportSouth, 99X and 98.9 FM, NBA Audio League Pass
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG Jeff Teague
Randy Foye SG Kirk Hinrich
Caron Butler SF Joe Johnson
Blake Griffin PF Josh Smith
Deandre Jordan C Jason Collins

Hawks Injury/Inactive Report: Al Horford (pectoral) is out and Zaza Pachulia (foot) is day-to-day.

Clippers Injury/Inactive Report: Chauncey Billups (achilles) is out.

More SB Nation Coverage: SB Nation Atlanta, Clips Nation

Game Preview:

It's official, the Hawks and the Celtics will indeed meet in the first round. The Hawks have clinched the 5th seed, and the Celtics have clinched the 4th seed. Neither team can move up or down. The only thing left up in the air is which of the two teams will get homecourt advantage?

Currently, the Hawks have a one game lead over the Celtics with only two games remaining for each team. In order for the Hawks to keep that homecourt advantage, the Hawks have to at least match the record of the Celtics in the next two games. Meaning, if the Celtics win both of their games (vs. MIA & vs. MIL), the Hawks have to win both of their games (vs. LAC & vs. DAL). If the Celtics and the Hawks finish with the same record, the Celtics will steal the homecourt advantage.

With that being said, this game has a lot of meaning. No matter if the Celtics win or lose tonight vs. the Heat, this game is still a must-win for the Hawks. If the Celtics lose and the Hawks win, the Hawks will clinch homecourt. If the Celtics win and the Hawks win, it will all come down to the last game. The Hawks should have a must-win mindset tonight.

Unfortunately, the Clippers will have the same mindset tonight, as they are still battling for something in these last 2 games of the regular season. The Clippers have a shot of winning their first division title in franchise history. They have to win their next two games and for the Lakers to lose their last game in order for them to get it. However, even if they don't get that division title, the Clippers will still have a chance to have homecourt advantage in the first round. They are currently at the 4th seed with only a half game lead over the Grizzlies and the 5th seed.

The Hawks need to at least match the sense of urgency the Clippers will have tonight, maybe even take it up a notch higher... because on paper, it looks like the Clippers have the advantage with the Hawks having two key frontcourt players sitting out. If the Hawks come out flat, I don't see how the Hawks can win this game. Not to sound like Coach Larry Drew, but the energy level needs to be high and it needs to stay high.
Of course, that's not all the Hawks need, to win this game.
If I had to key in one player that needs to play at a high level tonight, it's Josh Smith. Not only will he have the responsibilities to guard the explosive Blake Griffin, but he has to step up offensively. And as much as I respect Blake Griffin's talents, he's just not a defensive player. If Josh Smith gets Blake Griffin on the offensive end, Josh Smith has to take advantage and be aggressive without playing too erratic. Now that may be asking too much from jo,, but hey, he has shown plenty of times this season that he is capable of doing it.
A win tonight will not only mean a lot when it comes to homecourt implications, but it will also do good for the Hawks' psychee going into the playoffs. Every team will want to come into the post-season feeling confident, and beating a talented Clippers team that is playing for something will give you that.

Current/Past Season Series:

The Clippers are visiting Philips Arena for the first time this season to wrap up the 2 game season series. The Clippers won the first match-up this season in March with a 96-82 victory.

Before that loss, the Hawks had a 4 game winning streak against the Los Angeles Clippers. Still, the Hawks have a 2 game winning streak against the Clippers when it is played in Philips Arena. The Clippers' last win in Philips Arena came on February of 2009.

Clippers & Hawks Current Records/Streaks:

Away/Home: The Clippers are 16-15 on the road, and the Hawks have a 21-10 record at home.

Streaks/Trends: The Clippers are on a 1 game win streak, and the Hawks are on a 1 game losing streak. The Clippers have also won 14 out of their last 17 games, and the Hawks have won 8 out of their last 11 games.

Against .500+ teams: The Clippers post a 22-15 record against teams with winning records, while the Hawks only post a 12-21 record.