Programming note: Clippers-Warriors coverage tips off tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
OAKLAND – On Christmas Day in the NBA, featuring fantastic teams and stars that light up the marquee, there may not be an individual matchup more delicious than that between Stephen Curry and Chris Paul.
It's Curry's remarkable shooting squaring off against Paul's incredible court generalship. It's the slender bomber against the sturdy driver. It's the rising star against the established All-Star.
And in a pretty good sideshow, Curry's Warriors will face Paul's Clippers before the customary capacity crowd at Oracle Arena.
Curry vs. Paul was fantastic theater when the team's last met, on Halloween night at Staples Center. Curry finished with 38 points, including nine 3-pointers, nine assists – but a catastrophic 11 turnovers. Paul was better, going for 42 points, 15 assists and six steals – the only player to post those figures during the last 40 years – in a 126-115 Los Angeles victory.
There is no reason to think it'll be any different this time. Games between these teams usually will come down to the battle of the point guards. And it’s a good guess that Curry knows this.
"You know who you're playing, how great a player CP is and his resume at this point,'' Curry said after practice Tuesday. "Pretty much every team he goes to is a winning team. If you know don't show up, you're going to get exposed. So you have to make him work on the defensive end and make him work on the offensive end. It should be a tough battle. And it'll be like that for 48 minutes.
"It's what you expect. If you take a play off, he can expose you. He can make winning plays on any given possession, so you have to be on your game.''
Paul leads the league in assists (11.3 per game), is third in steals (2.36), 12th in free-throw percentage and 22nd in scoring (19.2). He is widely considered the best point guard in the game.
Curry is second in assists (9.2), tied for third in 3-pointers made (87), tied for fifth in scoring (23.9), seventh in steals (1.96) and 11th in free-throw percentage.
"He's playing at an all-time high for him, in my opinion, and he was special last year,'' coach Mark Jackson said. "Guys believe we have the best player on the floor, night in and night out.''
OTHER MATCHUPS TO WATCH
David Lee vs. Blake Griffin. Lee relishes playing the high-profile flyer from Oklahoma. Neither is particularly good on defense, and Lee has the better all-around offensive game. But Griffin's alley-oop shows generate so many highlights – and commercials – he's a household name.
Andrew Bogut vs. DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is a terrific athlete, capable of running down guards on the fast break. He lives for flashy plays. Bogut is the better player at both ends of the court. He simply has to keep Jordan from getting in one of those rare streaks where he puts on a show. He's capable of that.
The Warriors have more than held their own against the Clippers, splitting four of the last seven season series and winning the other three, including a 3-1 advantage last season.
Bogut (ankle) is expected to start. Centers Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery), Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and Ognjen Kuzmic (right pinkie surgery) are out indefinitely.
Guards J. J. Redick (hand) and Reggie Bullock (ankle) are out indefinitely.