Los Angeles Clippers: Joe Johnson

Home court will be crucial for Clips

April, 24, 2012
The Los Angeles Clippers didn't play terribly in Tuesday's road game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Their two stars -- Blake Griffin and Chris Paul -- combined to score 70 points, their largest combined total of the 2011-2012 season. They shot the ball equally as well as Atlanta -- 50 percent even -- and turned it over fewer times.

But the Clippers still lost to the Hawks, 109-102, in the penultimate game of their lockout-shortened regular season. And that's why they so desperately need home-court advantage for their upcoming first-round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Luckily, they can still attain it by beating the New York Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, or if Memphis loses at home to Orlando on Thursday, which is unlikely.

It's simple: The home team has the advantage in close games, and the entire Clippers-Grizzlies series looks like it'll be close. Therefore, the team with the extra road game in the first-round series could face a significant handicap. In other words, it's no coincidence that the Clippers have won both of their home games against the Grizzlies and lost their only road matchup.

At home, Griffin, Paul and Co. have won 73 percent of their games. On the road, they've now won exactly 50 -- with 16 wins and 16 losses. How fitting it is, then, that the regular-season finale will break that tie and go a long way toward deciding if the Clippers will be able to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

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