LOS ANGELES -- Somewhere behind the tsunami of conversation and debate devoted to DeMarcus Cousins making his return to the NBA on Friday, the Warriors and Clippers will play a basketball game.
Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame, with tipoff at Staples Center scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Though Cousins’ Warriors debut will be the focal point of every fan around the globe, the team has a compelling bit of business at hand.
They’re trying to extend a six-game winning streak against a team they no longer dominate.
The Warriors (31-14) had beaten the Clippers 12 consecutive times before taking a 19-point loss at Oracle Arena last January. The teams have split their last four games, including the first two this season: a Clippers 121-116 overtime win on Nov. 12 in L.A., and the Warriors taking a 129-127 victory on Dec. 23 in Oakland.
The Clippers (24-20) remade their roster over the last two summers and had been better than projected before losing their last four games. They own the seventh-best record in the Western Conference and 12th-best in the league.
This is the Warriors’ first trip to Staples since the highly publicized squabble between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green on Nov. 12.
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C DeMarcus Cousins
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry
F Danilo Gallinari
F Tobias Harris
C Marcin Gortat
G Avery Bradley
G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
C Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) is listed as out.
F Luc Mbah a Moute (left knee soreness) is listed as out.
Though Cousins will start, he’s not likely to play more than five consecutive minutes, which leaves the possibility of limited action in each quarter. The remaining minutes are expected to go to Kevon Looney and Draymond Green. Jordan Bell, already on the fringe of the rotation, is the odd man out.
Curry (42) and Durant (35) combined for 77 points in the last meeting between the teams.
Backup PG Shaun Livingston has been effective since returning after a brief absence with knee soreness, shooting 10-of-15 from the field over his last four games. He had a season-high 13 points against the Pelicans on Wednesday.
Guard Lou Williams is the most dangerous bench scorer in the league. He’s averaging 18.7 ppg, tops among all reserves. He’s averaging 22.5 ppg over his last 12 games.
Backup C/F Montrezl Harrell has been so effective, he consistently plays more minutes than Gortat. His 11 double-doubles lead all reserves.
Williams and Harrell are the primary reasons the Clippers lead the NBA in bench scoring (52.6 ppg). The Warriors are 28th (30.2).
Yes, guard Patrick Beverley remains a Clipper and will get minutes, if only to annoy Curry. It’s fair to say they have a longstanding adversarial relationship.
Eric Lewis (chief), Gediminas Petraitis, Brandon Adair