OAKLAND – There was a time, not long ago, when Oracle Arena would be buzzing with anticipation and dripping with drama at the thought of the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Warriors.
Steph vs. Kyrie. KD vs. LeBron. Draymond vs. the entire Cleveland roster.
None of those factors, with the possible exception of Draymond Green challenging every Cav, will be present when the teams meet Friday night. Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 p.m. with Warriors Outsiders, followed by Warriors Pregame Live at 6:30, with tipoff scheduled for 7:40.
The Warriors (54-24) will be trying to clinch best record in the Western Conference. A victory combined with a Denver Nuggets loss to the Portland Trail Blazers would give the Warriors homecourt advantage throughout the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs.
Cleveland was, by contrast, eliminated from the playoffs four weeks ago. With Kyrie Irving being traded two years ago and LeBron James leaving last summer, the current Cavs (19-60) have lost seven in a row, and are a skeletal reflection of the squad that faced the Warriors in four consecutive NBA Finals.
Rather than possibly being too hyped up for this matchup, the Warriors will have to find motivation in the greater goal of ensuring that any potential Game 7 comes through Oakland.
F Kevin Durant
F Draymond Green
C Andrew Bogut
G Klay Thompson
G Stephen Curry
F Cedi Osman
F Larry Nance Jr.
C Tristan Thompson
G Brandon Knight
G Collin Sexton
Warriors: Center DeMarcus Cousins (load management), forward Andre Iguodala (left toe soreness) and center Damian Jones (left pectoral surgery) are listed as out.
Cavaliers: Guard Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), forward/center John Henson (left wrist surgery) and forward Kevin Love (left shoulder soreness) are listed as out. Guard J.R/ Smith (personal) is not with the team.
Warriors: The absence of Cousins and Iguodala likely means more minutes for Bogut and guard Shaun Livingston, both of whom rested Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as guard Alfonzo McKinnie ... If the Warriors build a big early lead against a struggling team, as they did in LA, guards Quinn Cook and Damion Lee could see significant time ... Curry needs 24 points to move past Paul Arizin (16,226) on the franchise’s career scoring list ... If you’re looking for an indicator that the Warriors are gearing up for the postseason, here’s one: Their 98.3 defensive rating over the last five games is No. 1 in the league ... The Warriors this season are 8-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets.
Cavaliers: Rookie point guard Collin Sexton has had a solid second half, and looks like a keeper. He has scored at least 20 points in 12 of last 14 games. Averaging 16.6 ppg and shooting 41.1 percent from deep, he’s on pace to become the third rookie (joining Larry Bird and Stephen Curry) to average at least 16 ppg and shoot at least 40 percent from deep ... Guard Jordan Clarkson, the team’s sixth man, is the leading scorer among active Cavs (17.1 ppg). He also has 70 double-digit scoring games this season, tops among all reserves ... As poorly as the Cavs have played on their 0-4 road trip, they’ve outrebounded opponents by an average of 7.5 a game. Nance is averaging 12.3 per game on the trip. Rebounding is an area in which the Warriors can be vulnerable.
Officials: Ken Mauer (crew chief), Tony Brown, Leroy Richardson