OAKLAND – Gone is the debate over whether Warriors-Clippers represented a rivalry. It does. Having gone from upstart contenders to enemies to playoff foes, the stakes are now as high as the emotions.
That surely will be the case Sunday afternoon, when the Warriors (48-12) play host to Los Angeles (40-22) at Oracle Arena.
"We’re looking forward to it," Warriors center Andrew Bogut says. "It's going to be a good game. We don't like each other. It's kind of one of those throwback games from back in the day, where there's (flagrant fouls) and technicals and that kind of stuff."
It should be noted that the Clippers could be without three of their top seven players. Forward Blake Griffin and guard Jamal Crawford are not expected to play and forward Matt Barnes is listed as doubtful. The Clippers on Saturday signed ex-Warrior Nate Robinson to a 10-day contract.
The Warriors, by contrast, are as healthy as they've been all season.
[RELATE: Kerr: Two straight high-turnover games 'little disturbing']
Warriors by 7.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul. Always a delightful little war on the court, this is the first meeting since Steph clearly outshined CP3 during All-Star Weekend. Has Curry surpassed seven-time All-Star Paul as a point guard? Curry is out to prove he has, while Paul will try to prove he's still the one.
Andrew Bogut vs. DeAndre Jordan. Jordan usually is good for a lob or two against any team, including the Warriors. Bogut will try to keep the NBA's best rebounder from dominating the glass. If he succeeds, it will bring the Warriors considerably closer to a victory.
Klay Thompson vs. J.J. Redick. Klay has a better chance of containing J.J. than J.J. does of containing Klay. That said, Thompson's 3-point shooting has taken a vacation (25 percent over last four games), while Redick's has been fairly steady (38.5 over past five). If one gets hot, his team gets an immense boost.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
1) Cherish the ball. The Warriors in the past two games have committed 40 turnovers. Giving it away at that rate will energize LA's transition game and invite lobs.
2) Beat their bench. With Jamal Crawford not expected to play, the Warriors have a decided advantage. They need to exploit it to the fullest. They're capable.
3) Hit 'em early. The early start time equates to a morning tipoff. If either team has the advantage, it's the one playing at home. Nothing wakes up a drowsy crowd like a fast start.
Warriors 7-3, Clippers 7-3.
Warriors: No injuries listed.
Clippers: F Matt Barnes (strained right hamstring) is listed as doubtful. G Jamal Crawford (right calf contusion) and F Blake Griffin (right elbow surgery) are listed as out.
The Warriors are seeking their seventh consecutive home win over the Clippers, having not lost to LA at Oracle since Christmas Night 2011. The home team has won each of the last nine regular-season meetings.