Knicks and Clippers Battle for Playoff Position at MSG

Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: New York -1 1/2
Current Line: New York -4 1/2
Opening Total: 193
Current Total: 191 1/2
Opening Money Line: Knicks -140 / Clippers -120
Current Money Line: Knicks -180 / Clippers +160

The Knicks host the Clippers Wednesday night in a crucial game for both teams. The Knicks are 4.5 point favorites at home.

Although both the Knicks and Clippers have clinched playoff spots already, this game is far from meaningless for either team. The 40-25 Los Angeles Clippers, coached by Vinny Del Negro, know they will play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round. However, the Clippers must win tonight to secure home court advantage in that series. The Clippers had a chance to catch the Lakers for the Pacific Division title and the #3 seed in the West, but a 109-102 loss at Atlanta last night ended those dreams.

The 34-30 New York Knicks are tied with Philadelphia for the #7 seed in the East. Both teams are already in the playoffs. For the Knicks it is a pick your poison situation. If the Knicks are the #7 seed they get Miami in the first round, and if they drop to the #8 seed they get Chicago. There is an outside shot the Knicks could move up as high as the #6 spot. The Knicks are 16-6 since March 14 when coach Mike D’Antoni resigned and was replaced by interim coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks have won 3 of their last 4 games including 113-112 at Atlanta Sunday night.

This is the only meeting of the season between the Knicks and Clippers. The two teams split the season series last year with each winning on their own home court. The Knicks are 21-11 at home this season.

Los Angeles is outscoring opponents 98-95 this season. The Clippers are shooting 45.4% from the field and 35.5% from 3 point range. LA makes 68.2% of their free throws. The Clippers average 41.6 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +1.8. LA averages 21 assists, 13.3 turnovers, 8.5 steals, and 4.8 blocks a game. Clipper opponents are shooting 44.7% from the field and 36.5% from 3 point range. The Clips force 14.7 turnovers a game.

Clipper forward Blake Griffin averages 20.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. He leads the Clippers in scoring and is tied for 5th in rebounding in the league. Point guard Chris Paul averages 19.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists, and 2.5 steals a game. Paul is third in the NBA in assists and leads the league in steals. He is questionable with a groin pull.  Guard Mo Williams is averaging 13.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1 steal a game. Forward Caron Butler averages 12 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists a game. Guard Randy Foye averages 10.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists a game. Guard Nick Young was acquired from the Wizards before the trade deadline. He is averaging 10 points a game. Guard Chauncey Billups averaged 15 points and 4 assists before he tore his Achilles’ tendon.  Center DeAndre Jordan averages 8.2 rebounds and leads the team in blocks with 2.1 a game.

New York is outscoring opponents 98-95 this season. The Knicks are shooting 44.2% from the field and 33.5% from 3 point range. New York makes 74.3% from the free throw line. The Knicks average 41.9 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of 0. New York averages 20 assists, 16.2 turnovers, 9.5 steals, and 4.2 blocks. Knick opponents are shooting 44.2% from the field and 35.6% from 3 point range. New York forces 17.1 turnovers a game.

Knick forward Carmelo Anthony averages 22.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.1 steals a game. Forward Amare Stoudemire averages 17.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. He missed 14 games down the stretch with a back injury but hopes to play tonight after playing in the last 2 games. Point guard Jeremy Lin is out with a torn meniscus in his knee. He could return for the Playoffs. He averaged 14.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists to lead the team,  and 1.6 steals a game. Guard J.R. Smith averages 11.9 points, 4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 steals a game in 33 games since coming back from playing in China. Center Tyson Chandler averages 11.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game to lead the team in the latter two categories. He is probable with a knee injury after sitting out the last game for rest. Iman Shumpert averages 9.7 points, and leads the Knicks in steals with 1.7 a game. Jared Jeffries is out with a knee injury.

New York is 34-30 ATS and the total is 26-38 this season. Los Angeles is 33-32 ATS this season and the total is 32-32-1. New York is 11-5 ATS in the last 16 meetings against the Clippers. The underdog is 8-1 ATS in the series recently and the road team is 7-1. Six of the last seven meetings have gone over the total. The Clippers are 5-2 ATS after failing to cover, and 1-5 against Eastern conference teams. The Knicks are 7-0 ATS after allowing 100 points or more, 5-0 in Wednesday games, 6-1 as a favorite, 14-3 as a home favorite, including 4-1 as a favorite of 4.5 points or less, 17-6 overall, 19-7 at home, 9-4 against teams with winning records, and 3-8 against Pacific Division teams.

The Clippers need Chris Paul to be healthy for the playoffs, but it would improve their chances if they had home court against the Grizzlies in the first round. It is a dilemma whether to play Paul tonight and risk injuring his groin even further or try to win and secure home court advantage. If Paul plays, the Clippers have a chance. If not the Knicks will win.

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