OAKLAND — As fate would have it, the budding rivalry that is the Warriors and Clippers will culminate in a best-of-seven series guaranteed to entertain.
With the potential to be the most physical, chippy and exciting matchup of the first round, the first round matchup kicks off Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The last tussle between the two teams came Christmas Day resulting in multiple altercations, technicals, ejections and a fight that pushed itself nearly into the crowd.
A man at the nucleus of many of the squabbles, Warriors center Andrew Bogut, is out indefinitely with a fractured rib. With the devastating injury to Golden State’s starting big man, the Clippers have a size advantage that has given them early favor of the highly anticipated first round series.
It all comes down the the sharp-shooting Splash Brothers and company, versus Lob City and Chris Paul.
Keys to the series
David Lee. With Bogut out, the Warriors front court is in the hot seat to find a way to slow down Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Lee, while a fluid sure-thing on offense, has been harshly criticized for lacking defensively. He not only has the opportunity to silence his critics, but in order for the Warriors to have a chance, he’ll need to make his presence in the paint known to stop high-flying Lob City.
Reserves. The Warriors bench has not been the most consistent this season, and head coach Mark Jackson said the rotation would shorten come playoffs. This means that the key reserves need to rise to the challenge against a deep Clippers team.
Draymond Green has been playing great and is expected to continue in the post season but will have a monster of a task being the key backup, especially if Lee struggles against Griffin.
Harrison Barnes was great last season and in the 2013 Playoffs, but he’s been in a slump for the larger part of this years campaign. It’s all hands on deck now, and Barnes will be key in the Warriors success and needs to come out swinging.
Chris Paul. He’s arguably one of the best players in the NBA, definitely one of the best point guards and a nightmare of a matchup.
Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala will do most of the heavy lifting guarding Paul, but the spacing Paul creates on offense could hurt the Warriors. Again, the Warriors will have to clamp down defensively and sure up the paint in order to cut down on Paul’s drives or alley-oop lobs.
Health. The Clippers are heading into the post season quite possibly the most healthy they have ever been, but injuries to key players could throw off the rhythm they currently have.
The Warriors simply can not afford another injury. Bogut is bad enough, but if another is shut down, the Warriors hopes of winning could be as well.