LOS ANGELES -- The Warriors have beaten the Los Angeles Clippers eight consecutive times, largely because of the presence of Draymond Green.
When they try to make it nine straight Thursday night at Staples Center, Green will be watching from the sideline, declared out with a left shoulder contusion sustained in a 126-111 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday in Oakland.
The Warriors (42-7) have been successful against LA largely because of Green’s splendid defense on Clippers star Blake Griffin. With point guard Chris Paul out, containing Griffin becomes even more pivotal.
The Clippers (31-18), like the Warriors, are on the second night of a back-to-back set, having defeated the Suns 124-114 in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
Warriors by 9.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Kevin Durant & Co. vs. Blake Griffin: With Green out, the Warriors have no physical match for Griffin. He’s too big for some, too quick for others. Durant, however, can use his length to offset some of Griffin’s power. Expect Warriors coach Steve Kerr will send a rotation of defenders, though, as Griffin must play well for the Clippers to have a chance. The Warriors gain a big advantage if they can keep Griffin under 50 percent from the field.
Warriors: G Shaun Livingston (mid-back strain) is listed as out. F Draymond Green (L shoulder contusion), C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and C David West (L thumb fracture) are listed as out.
Clippers: G Chris Paul (L thumb ligament tear) and F Brice Johnson (acute herniated disc) are listed as out.
Warriors: 9-1. Clippers: 6-4.
The Warriors have won eight in a row, including two earlier this season, once at home (Jan. 28) and once in LA (Dec. 7). The Warriors have won 16 of the last 21.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE SMALL GAME: The Clippers opened with a three-guard lineup (Raymond Felton, JJ Redick and Austin Rivers) at Phoenix and could do so again. In any case, they’re likely to frequently surround DeAndre Jordan and Griffin with shooting threats. The Warriors wouldn’t mind this, as it would inflate the value of Andre Iguodala and it also would provide additional scoring opportunities for guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
THE DOGFIGHT: With their 46-point win over LA last week, the Warriors know they embarrassed their Southern California “rivals.” The Clippers are a proud bunch. It is anticipated that this time, on their home turf, they will bring considerably more fury to the fight. If the Warriors match the intensity, it may not matter.
LOB CITY VS. LOB TOWN: Back when the Clippers were healthy and playing well, an NBA scout told me JaVale McGee could be particularly valuable against them because his athleticism offsets much of what LA center DeAndre Jordan does above the rim. It will be interesting to see if that comes to fruition.