LOS ANGELES – When the Warriors take the floor Tuesday night to face the Clippers at Staples Center, it will be a battle between the hottest teams in the NBA.
Then again, the building always seems to heat up when these teams meet.
The Warriors have won nine in a row, while the Clippers have won seven straight.
The Warriors already own the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, while the Clippers currently are fifth but on a mission to climb into the top four.
That the Warriors (60-13) last week won the Pacific Division, dethroning the Clippers (49-25), who won it in each of the last two seasons, suggests a power shift may be underway.
Warriors by 2.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul: Arguably the two best point guards in the league, it's always a wicked battle when these two share the floor. Curry is at the front of the MVP race, while Paul is among those bringing up the rear. Although the game means more to LA, don't be surprised if Curry finds a way to at least match Paul's intensity.
Andrew Bogut vs. DeAndre Jordan: Both big men are terrific rim protectors in the thick of the Defensive Player of the Year debate. Yet they are very different. Bogut is the better on-ball defender, while Jordan's strength is swooping in to offer help from the weak side. Bogut grades out better, but Jordan is more likely to deliver spectacle.
Draymond Green vs. Blake Griffin: Green may be sidelined, but the slightest possibility of this war is too juicy to dismiss. Green clearly relishes playing Griffin, and it's apparent that Griffin does not enjoy facing Green. If Draymond plays, Blake will sweat for every bucket. If Draymond doesn't play, Blake might start singing.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Bring the intensity -- That usually is a given against LA, but the Warriors know their playoff status. The Clips are fighting for homecourt advantage in the first round.
2) Burn the bench -- The Warriors can go 10 or 11 deep. Even 12. Once the Clippers get past their starters, it gets weak and thin in hurry – particularly on defense.
3) No seconds or thirds -- Jordan aside, the Clips are not strong rebounders. But if DJ owns the offensive glass and extends possessions, LA will sting the Warriors.
Warriors 9-1, Clippers 8-2.
Warriors: F Draymond Green (inflammation in shins) is listed as questionable.
Clippers: G Jamal Crawford (right calf contusion) is listed as out.
The Warriors won two of the three previous meetings this season, both at Oracle Arena, thereby assuring themselves of maintaining their streak of nine consecutive seasons in which they have not lost the season series. The home team has prevailed in each of the last 10 meetings. The Warriors last won at Staples on Jan. 2, 2013.