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Warriors vs Clippers preview: Injuries lessen the hype but bad blood remains

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Los Angeles was no match for Golden State without Chris Paul during a blowout last weekend, deflating hopes for a budding rivalry. But there’s no love lost between the teams, not to mention a certain knucklehead in the TNT studio crew.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green isn’t bashful about acknowledging the Warriors’ dominance over the Clippers.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Golden State Warriors (42-7) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (31-18)

How to watch

Date: Thursday February 2, 2017

Time: 7:30pm PST

Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA

TV: TNT

Radio: 95.7 THE GAME

Injury report

Last updated 8:00pm on 2/1/17

Warriors: David West - out; Zaza Pachulia - out; (UPDATE 1:15pm) Draymond Green - out; Shaun Livingston - doubtful

Clippers: Chris Paul

Chris Paul injury throws a wrench in NBA’s schedule

Well, the NBA has to be frustrated with the timing of Chris Paul’s thumb injury earlier this month. Tonight’s game is the second between the Warriors and Clippers in less than a week, the first affair resulting in a 46 point blowout in Paul’s absence.

NBA schedulers probably anticipated a meaningful battle tonight for playoff seeding within a budding rivalry that would help redirect fans’ attention from the boring NFL playoffs to a higher quality NBA product. What better advertising for the upcoming All-Star Game, right?

But the reality is that the Clippers are feckless without Paul and aren’t good enough to be considered a rival of the Warriors. In fact, Golden State has won the last eight games in this non-rivalry. Does L.A. have any hope of breaking that streak without its starting point guard?

Back-to-back games offer Clippers an excuse to back down

The schedule does the Clippers a favor in that both Golden State and Los Angeles played last night. If the Clippers have had enough of the Warriors’ beat downs, Coach Doc Rivers has a viable excuse to rest his starters after a WIN/LOSS? in Phoenix last night.

Similarly, don’t be surprised to see the Warriors decide to rest Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston (again), who played more minutes than usual on Sunday in the close game that Stephen Curry missed. That will mean extra minutes for Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark, providing valuable experience before the anticipated playoff run. And yes, with David West, Zaza Pachulia, (updated) and Draymond Green out tonight we will likely get a dose of Anderson Varejao on the court, so the Clippers have a chance!

Fortunately, JaVale McGee matches up well with first-time All-Star DeAndre Jordan. Further, the Warriors seem pleased with James Michael McAdoo’s progress, though he doesn’t have the speed or leaping ability to hang with Jordan. Handling Blake Griffin without Green will be a challenge. Hopefully a combination of Kevin Durant and Iguodala can tame that bull. At the same time, let’s just say that the Stephen Curry vs Austin Rivers match-up doesn’t work out in Los Angeles’ favor.

Things could get chippy both on the court and in the studio

While we’ve established that the Clippers aren’t on the same level as the Warriors, there’s still plenty of bad blood between the teams. Particularly if we see another blowout, there’s potential for tempers to flare. At least Green won’t be at risk of picking up a technical or worse.

And if the sparks don’t fly on the court, there’s bound to be plenty of talking in the TNT studio before, during, and after the game with Warrior-hater extraordinaire, Charles Barkley. Barkley is never shy about throwing shade at the sharp-shooting Warriors, but how might that change in light of comments from LeBron James this week?

James put the smack down this week in response to Charles Barkley’s criticism of James’ public comments disparaging Cleveland’s efforts to field a championship caliber team. So far, Barkley appears content to defend his criticism of James without escalating the beef any further. It’s somewhat ironic that Barkley is opting to take the high road that James proclaims to take but struggles to do.

So with the cameras on, will the studio conversation stick to the feud with James or will Barkley take out his aggression any more than usual on the Warriors? What’s clear is that the Warriors will take any bashing sent their way far less personally than did LeBron this week. Perhaps Barkley can turn a new leaf and show the Dubs a little love for that.