LOS ANGELES – In opening a five-game road trip Wednesday night, the Warriors are going right into an NBA war zone they know all too well.
They’re invading Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Clippers.
The teams, along with the San Antonio Spurs, are expected to battle for Western Conference supremacy. The Warriors (18-3) are 12 days removed from overtaking the Clippers (16-6) for sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. Though LA started fast, winning 14 of 16, it has since lost four of six.
The game is Kevin Durant’s introduction to the agitation that tends to accompany Warriors-Clippers, and he’ll see plenty of LA defensive ace Luc Mbah a Moute.
The Warriors are reuniting with popular former teammate Marreese Speights, who after three seasons in the Bay Area signed with LA in July.
Warriors by 4
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul. Several matchups deserve attention, but it begins with the two fabulous point guards. Paul’s task is to slow Curry, and he occasionally does. Curry simply wants to make sure Paul doesn’t impose his enough to supervise the action. The winner of this matchup tends to dictate the winner of these games.
Warriors: 9-1. Clippers: 6-4.
Warriors: No injuries listed.
Clippers: F Brice Johnson (lower back herniated disc) is listed as out.
Warriors C Damian Jones is on assignment with D-League Santa Cruz.
The Warriors have won six in a row and seven of the last eight, and are 24-12 over the last nine seasons against the Clippers.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
Tests for the best. The Warriors lead the NBA in scoring and overall offensive rating, while the Clippers are tops in overall defensive rating. Conventional wisdom is that good offense beats good defense. It’s certain that each team’s “1” is under the gun.
LA loves charity: No team in the NBA shoots more free throws than the Clippers. The Warriors won’t mind sending DeAndre Jordan to the charity stripe, maybe even intentionally, but they want to avoid fouls that give Jordan’s teammates easy money.
From the jump. While the Warriors are downplaying the significance of the game, the Clippers are not. So LA definitely will make an effort to make a statement in the opening minutes. Will they? And what happens if they don’t? The Warriors will be on alert.