Tuesday, April 24, 2012
What to watch: Clippers-Hawks
By Arash Markazi
Clippers (40-24) vs. Atlanta Hawks (38-26) at Philips Arena, 4:30 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Closing out: The Clippers close out the season with back-to-back road games against Atlanta and New York. They only need one win or a Memphis loss to clinch the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round. They need to win two games and have the Lakers lose to Sacramento on Thursday to clinch the Pacific Division and the No. 3 seed. While finishing with back-to-back games on the road isn’t ideal, the Clippers have been a good road team. The Clippers are 16-15 (.516) on the road this season and are attempting to finish with a .500 or better road record for the first time since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. The most road wins for the L.A. Clippers was 20, when they went 20-21 during the 2005-06 season. The Clippers are one of only eight teams in the league with a winning road record this season.
2. CP3 for MVP:In his first season with the Clippers, Chris Paul is making a strong case to become the first MVP winner the franchise has had since Bob McAdoo in 1975 with the Buffalo Braves. Paul had 33 points, 13 assists and eight steals Sunday against the New Orleans Hornets. It was just the fourth time in the last 25 seasons a Clipper has had at least 28 points and 13 assists in a single game. Paul also had 28 points and 13 assists on April 14. The last player to do so other than Paul was Andre Miller on Nov. 28, 2002. Paul hit those marks 14 times during his six-year career with the Hornets. Paul is the only player in franchise history with at least 28 points, 13 assists and three steals in a single game.
3. Moving on up: After beating the Hornets on Sunday, theClippers are 16 games over .500 (40-24). It's only the third time the Clippers have been more than five games over .500 this many games into a season since moving to Los Angeles. They finished the season eight games over .500 in 1991-92 and 12 games over .500 in 2005-06. The Clippers surpassed their victory total from last season on April 5, and their 40 wins are the most for the club since also winning 40 in 2006-07. The Clippers 40-24 record after 64 games equals the best record in franchise history.
4. Hot team: The Clippers have won 14 of their last 17 games since March 24. Their 13-3 record from March 24 -- April 18 equaled the best 16-game stretch in franchise history. The Clippers had three different 13-2 runs during the 1978-79 season in San Diego. The Clippers have also been solid against current playoff teams this season with a 19-12 record, which is the fifth-best mark in the league. They have also been a resilient team, coming back from 10 or more points an NBA-high 13 times this season.
5. Take care: The Clippers rank second in the NBA with 13.33 turnovers per game and are on pace to set the record for the lowest turnover average in franchise history.The lowest turnover average in franchise history was set by the 2007-08 Clippers, who averaged 14.3 turnovers per game. Last season, the Clippers finished the season averaging 16.3 turnovers. Their ability to take care of the ball has enabled them to be in most of the games they’ve played this season, even the ones they've lost. The Clippers’ 11 losses by five points or less is the fifth-highest total in the NBA this season.