Scouting Report: Los Angeles Clippers
The Hawks head into the second game of a back-to-back against the red-hot Clippers, who have won six straight games and are pounding opponents, most recently a 46-point win over their L.A. rivals.
All-Star Blake Griffin is leading the way for the Clippers with 24 points per game on 53 percent shooting. Griffin always has an attack-first mindset, so when the ball gets in his hands, he’ll be looking to get to the rim. He’s a freak athlete, he’s good off the dribble, and at times he’s not necessarily looking to score, but rather looking to draw a foul. Paul Millsap’s challenge will be defending him straight up while staying out of foul trouble. Griffin has a good mid-range game, but it’s better to give him those shots than to give him free throws or layups/dunks.
Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA right now. Averaging 11 assists per game, he’s always looking to make plays for his teammates. He’s struggled a bit with his perimeter shot this season, but he’s another guy who’s very good off the dribble. It will be yet another challenge for Jeff Teague at the point guard spot, but one he can hopefully manage by giving Paul space on the perimeter to help prevent the dribble drive.
In the middle, DeAndre Jordan does all the dirty work. He cleans up the glass on both ends, protects the rim and is almost unguardable if he catches in the low post. He doesn’t have any range, so the key is to make him catch as far away from the basket as possible.
The Clippers are dealing with some injuries. J.J. Redick remains out, sixth man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford is listed as day-to-day and Jared Dudley is a game-time decision. Even without those key rotational pieces, the Clippers still have a potent bench thanks to the mid-season signings of Glen Davis and Danny Granger. This is a team that feels like they’re ready to make a finals run, and they’re clicking on all cylinders right now. The Hawks will have to be good in transition and play good straight up defense. They’ve gotten themselves in trouble by helping when they haven’t needed to, and this is a team you can’t afford to double, because they’ll find the open man.
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