The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for a showdown between the big-name LA Clippers and the in-form Atlanta Hawks.
13:00 (AEDT), Tue 22nd Mar @ Staples Center, Los Angeles
History: Played 125: Hawks 79 V Clippers 46
Last meeting: January 26, 2021: Hawks 108 d Clippers 99 at State Farm Arena
Final Thoughts: The heavyweight LA Clippers are attempting to bust out of a patchy period, but the streaking Atlanta Hawks shapes as a tricky opponent.
The 27-16 Clippers are fourth in the West but have not won consecutive games since February 15. After splitting their two games against the Mavericks in Dallas, they carved out a commanding 125-98 home win over the Hornets two days ago. Paul George (21 pts, 5 reb, 10 ast) starred in the rout.
Kawhi Leonard is averaging 26 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists, while the marquee duo may soon be joined by Lonzo Ball if the trade deadline rumour mill proves to be correct.
Atlanta’s firing of head coach Lloyd Pierce raised some eyebrows. But interim coach Nate McMillan has since taken the Hawks on an 8-0 run, improving to 22-20 and fifth in the East.
The Hawks have admittedly capitalised on a soft draw, culminating in a 99-94 win over a Lakers side that lost LeBron James early. But their previous four wins were by 12-plus margins. John Collins put up 27 points and 16 rebounds against the Lakers and Clint Capela also pulled down 16 boards.
The Hawks’ run has also coincided with Bogdan Bogdanovic’s return from injury. Trae Young is averaging 25.6 points and 9.4 assists, while Danilo Gallinari is running into good form.
The Hawks already have a win over the Clippers to their name this season, carving out a 108-99 victory in Atlanta in January.
Young went off for 38 points and Capela racked up 18 rebounds – but the Clippers were without Leonard and George.
While this is the first genuinely high-quality opponent the Hawks have faced in over three weeks, they can only play who is in front of them and their form has been excellent. The Clippers have been inconsistent and look a shaky proposition against a big line.
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