Programming note: Clippers-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
OAKLAND – Gone are the days when these games were played in a vacuum, two teams on the outskirts of the NBA, mocked by some and ignored by most.
When the Warriors and Clippers meet nowadays, it's an event. The unofficial championship of the NBA's California division, once a battle between the Lakers and Kings, now is decided by Warriors-Clippers.
So when the teams meet Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, stakes and emotions will be higher and the blood of both teams will run hotter.
A "bitter rivalry," is how Warriors center Andrew Bogut described it.
"It'll be the same (Wednesday) night," he added.
[RELATED: Kerr: Clippers coming 'to kick our a--']
"They know us and we know them," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "It's not going to be any surprises. It's going to be a dogfight."
This is what happens when two franchises once scrambling for scraps realize they now have a chance at the whole pie and visualize eating it.
The undercurrent of animosity goes back a couple years, but it increased last spring when the teams met in the first round of the playoffs and battled for seven games before Los Angeles emerged victorious.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, in his first season on the job, understands part of the hostility but won't comprehend the entire environment until he experiences it.
"It's a great rivalry, especially with the playoff series last year," he said, adding that working as a TNT basketball analyst relegated him to watching from a distance.
"It's two very good teams, same division, quick plane flight, natural geographic rivalry. It's fun. But I just got here."
And yet Kerr over the past couple days has sprinkled some salt into his usual amiability. He jumped the team for a relatively ragged practice on Tuesday and on Wednesday added another half hour to the usual 45-minute game-day shootaround.
"We obviously understand we have to play a really good game to win," point guard Stephen Curry said. "But anytime you're at home against a team that's been in the playoffs year after year after year, we have to show up."
That's partly the influence of Kerr. Whereas former coach Mark Jackson – who waged on-court battles with Clippers coach Doc Rivers during their playing careers – did not duck the agitation, Kerr is attempting to reduce the game to its essence.
"What's important is beating a fellow Western Conference playoff team and controlling home court," he said. "That's the importance of this game."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
1) Green vs. Blake Griffin -- Green did a masterful job of neutralizing Griffin in the playoffs last season. If he can continue to do that, it tilts the game toward the Warriors.
2) Curry vs. Chris Paul --Two of the game's best point guards will square off in a matchup that in the past generally was avoided. They have contrasting styles and different physiques, but their passion to compete is identical.
INJURY LIST: Warriors – F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is listed as probable but is expected to play limited minutes.
Clippers – F Glen Davis (strained right groin) is listed as questionable.
SERIES HISTORY: The teams split four games last season, each winning on its home court. The Warriors were defeated by the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs in seven games. The Clippers have not won a regular-season game in Oakland since Dec. 25, 2011, opening night of the lockout-shortened season.