Kyrie Irving

Gameday: Will Steph or Kyrie cook more in Oakland?

Gameday: Will Steph or Kyrie cook more in Oakland?

OAKLAND -- The Warriors on Saturday will try to do something they haven’t done in three years: beat the Boston Celtics in Oakland.

Pregame coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area, which will have postgame coverage immediately after the game. Tipoff at Oracle Arena is scheduled for 5:35.

The game provides a preview of a potential NBA Finals matchup. The Warriors (39-10), who last beat Boston at Oracle on Jan. 25, 2015, enter with a four-game lead over Houston in the Western Conference, while Boston (35-14) is up two games on Toronto in the East. Cleveland is six games back.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 10.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving: Both point guards are All-Star perennials and in the MVP race. Each sets the temperature and tone for his team. Though neither played well when the teams met in November, Irving gained a slight edge because he had more assists and fewer turnovers. If Curry drains a couple 3-pointers early, the Celtics had better look out. The Warriors know to be wary of Irving if the game is close late and he has the ball. If offset each other, the Warriors should benefit.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L foot soreness) is listed as probable. G Pat McCaw (mid-back strain) is listed as out. F Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Celtics: F/C Al Horford (head) is listed as probable. F Gordon Hayward (L ankle rehab) and G Marcus Smart (R hand laceration) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2.

Boston: 6-4.

GAME OFFICIALS

Derrick Stafford (crew chief), Nick Buchert, Dedric Taylor

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors lost the first meeting this season, 92-88, on Nov. 16 in Boston and have lost three of the last five meetings between the teams. The Warriors have lost the last two games at Oracle but are 4-3 against Boston in the Steve Kerr era.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

SECOND UNITS: Boston’s depth was hurt by Hayward’s injury and it’s starting to show, particularly on offense. The bench’s 101.3 offensive rating is 27th in the NBA. The true shooting percentage of 50.6 is last. When Irving is off the floor, Boston’s offensive rating is 97.2. It’s 86.4 for the month of January. The Celtics will have to defend like demons to offset that, and the offensive rating of the Warriors’ bench, 111.4, is tops in the league.

THE WARRIORS 1-4 PUNCH: This is the kind of game where the Warriors will try to seek out mismatches, which means they’re likely to utilize some high pick-and-roll action between Kevin Durant (the 4) and Curry (the 1). Though Warriors coach Steve Kerr doesn’t want to use it frequently, it’s a lethal tactic that puts even the smartest defenders in a quandary.

SMART’S ABSENCE: This is significant. Smart is Boston’s version of Andre Iguodala, except younger and with more brawn. At 6-4, 225 pounds with a 7-foot wingspan, he’s terrific on the ball and in the passing lanes. He at various times would have defended both Klay Thompson and Curry. Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin likely will inherit those minutes, but neither can approach Smart’s physicality or wingspan.

Report: Kyrie threatened to sit out the season if Cavs didn't trade him

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USATSI

Report: Kyrie threatened to sit out the season if Cavs didn't trade him

It's the story that simply won't go away.

Back in early July, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from Cleveland.

If the Cavs didn't honor his ask, Kyrie threatened to have surgery on his knee and sit out the 2017-18 season, according to Joe Vardon of cleveland.com.

Remember when Kyrie broke his knee cap late in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals?

Well, according to cleveland.com:

Irving needs minor knee surgery as a follow to the procedure he underwent during the 2015 Finals to repair his broken knee cap. It's not pressing -- Irving is averaging 24.5 points and shooting a career-high .477 from the field -- but the procedure would ease some of the swelling and day-to-day pain he feels.

Kyrie is averaging 24.5 points and 5.0 assists per game this season.

He's shooting just under 48 percent from the field and over 39 percent from deep.

The five-time All-Star leads the Celtics into Oracle Arena on Saturday night...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Gameday: Classic duel of Curry vs Kyrie as Warriors take on Celtics

Gameday: Classic duel of Curry vs Kyrie as Warriors take on Celtics

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here

They’re the hottest teams in the NBA and they own the best records in their respective conferences, and that explains why TD Garden will be white-hot with intensity when the Warriors and Celtics meet on Thursday.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 5:05.

The Warriors (11-3) have won seven in a row as they begin a four-game road trip on the East Coast. A bruised thigh kept Stephen Curry out of the game against Orlando on Monday night, but practiced Wednesday and is expected to rejoin the lineup.

Though the Celtics (13-2) underwent a roster makeover in the offseason and opened the season by losing their first two games, they have not lost since and will bring a 13-game win streak into the game.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 7.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving: Arguably the two best floor leaders in the NBA today, with Curry leading the championship race 2-1 and the MVP race 2-0. Curry has the benefit of superior scorers, notably Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, to ride with. With Hayward out, Irving absolutely has to get buckets. This is a classic duel, even when they don’t always guard each other, and they’ll spend a lot of time on each other in this game. Beware of the close game, for Irving is a fantastic closer.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: G Stephen Curry (R thigh bruise) will play after missing one game. C Damian Jones is on assignment with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors.

Celtics: F Gordon Hayward (L ankle fracture) is listed as out.

GAME OFFICIALS

James Capers (crew chief), Tyler Ford and Pat Fraher.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams have split two games in each of the past two seasons, with each winning on the other’s court. The Warriors have won seven of the last 10 meetings overall, including the last four in Boston. Their last loss at TD Garden was on March 1, 2013.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

IMMOVABLE VS. IRRESISTIBLE: The Warriors lead the league in scoring, 119 points per game, and offensive rating at 116.1. The Celtics allow a league-low 94.5ppg and own a league-best 95.8 defensive rating. Boston’s length (four of the top six players have 7-foot wingspans) and switching ability stifles opposing offenses, which is how it has the league’s best record despite its 26th-best field-goal percentage. Can the Warriors create holes? Don’t be surprised if there’s more pick-and-roll than usual.

THE VERSATILE FOURS: Draymond Green of the Warriors and Al Horford of the Celtics are power forwards who sometimes masquerade as centers. They’re superb defenders, capable of guarding multiple positions. They can score inside and out; Horford is shooting 48.8 percent from deep, Green 38.3. Green will be the primary defender on Horford, but expect Horford to split time defending Green and Durant.

THE BENCH WAR: Warriors reserves are shooting a league-best 54.2 percent, while Boston is firing at a league-worst 35.9 percent. Worse, Boston’s bench is shooting 29.2 percent beyond the arc to 35.7 for the Warriors. Unless the Celtics work some magic with rotations, their second unit is in danger of being scorched by the deeper Warriors.