Mar 14, 2012, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) is defended by Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia (27) at the Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Hawks 96-82. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Los Angeles Clippers-Atlanta Hawks Preview

The Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers will both be in position to get nearer to home-court advantage in the Playoffs on Tuesday Night at Philips Arena.

Atlanta (38-26) holds a one-game lead over Atlantic Division champion Boston, which is guaranteed the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The Hawks have the fifth seed clinched the fifth seed, and would have home-field advantage in their playoff series against the Celtics if they finish with a better record than Boston, The Celtics host the Heat on Tuesday, but the Heat will likely be without James, Wade, and Bosh.

“I’m just looking for just the consistency and for the strong finish,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “I said before that I think it’s important to go into any playoff series with a strong taste in your mouth.”

The Clippers on the other hand, need a Grizzlies loss or a win to clinch the 4th seed, and still have an outside shot at the Pacific Division title if they win Tuesday and Wednesday at the Knicks, and then the Lakers loss their regular season finale to the Sacramento Kings. It shouldn’t be a news-flash that the Kings will likely be played without Metta World Peace after his vicious elbow to James Harden’s head over the weekend.

“We got to keep fighting,” point guard Chris Paul said. “We got to win one more to lock up home court so a big game for us in Atlanta.”

In their last game and home-finale, the Clippers struggled early against the New Orleans Hornets, but pulled it out in the 4th quarter when they outscored the Hornets 33-14.

Paul led the Hornets with 33 points and 13 assists, 13 points in the 4th quarter, and over-turned what had been a lopsided game from an effort stand-point.

“Our effort, our energy, our attitude, our intensity, anything you want to call it was not very good for about 40 minutes,” coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Two of the NBA’s best dunkers will show what they have between the Hawks’ Josh Smith and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin.

The Hawks will probably have difficulty defending Griffin, because they are missing Al Horford (torn left pectoral muscle) and Zaza Pachulia (sprained left foot). This should be an excellent preview of how the Clippers respond to adversity and show what they are capable of in the Playoffs.

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Tags: Chris Paul Vinny Del Negro

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