Golden State Warriors (22-10) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (26-8)
It still feels like everyone is waiting for the Warriors and Clippers to sink. Los Angeles got back on the winning track with a win over the cross-hall rivals at Staples Center. Golden State is still playing extremely well with David Lee and Stephen Curry even making SportsCenter appearances to promote themselves for the spot. Again, though, it feels like the NBA world is not quite ready to believe.
When will that point come? That seems to be as good of a question as any for this Golden State team. Perceptions about the franchise do not necessarily equate to perceptions about this specific team.
What we do know about Golden State is that it is a team with a ton of shooters like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and some now burlish rebounders in David Lee and Carl Landry. There is an inner toughness to this team. And Jarrett Jack has been superb off the bench so far this season in what has amounted to a breakout season for the veteran backup point guard.
Still, none of these players have really played at this level and so we all wonder where that iceberg is waiting.
You still have to pinch yourself when you think of how well the Clippers are playing. This franchise just does not play this well. Ever.
That Clippers curse still feels like it is sitting in the shadows. But that may not come. Not with how deep this team is with Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe coming off the bench. And Chris Paul putting in an MVP-type season. And Blake Griffin continuing to improve.
No, this game is not what we thought at the beginning of the year. This game is a battle for Pacific Division supremacy. Better believe it.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Good news for Warriors fans hoping their team pushes all in for this season: the Contra Costa Times reports the Warriors are not desperate to get under the luxury tax this year. It seems like this team will remain intact. Maybe Golden State will even be buyers this trade deadline.
-Golden State could be without one of its key players tonight. Jarrett Jack's status is uncertain for tonight's big showdown.
Tonight's Other Games
Boston Celtics (15-17) vs. Atlanta Hawks (20-11)
Kevin Garnett was ejected from last night's game against Indiana and it seemed to be a bit of charity thanks to the increasing physical nature of the game. Garnett is not seeing any further repercussions from the ejection. Seems like he is ready to move on to tonight's game.
New York Knicks (22-10) vs. Orlando Magic (12-20)
J.R. Smith has shot up to become the favorite for Sixth Man of the Year. He might very well be in the running for Most Improved Player too as he is finally realizing his potential. What is left for Smith? He has his sights set on an All-Star Game appearance. That might be far fetched, but Smith has set that as his goal.
Milwaukee Bucks (16-15) vs. Indiana Pacers (19-14)
The Pacers are back home after a very physical matchup with the Celtics last night in Boston. Indiana was held to a season-low field goal percentage and took a couple bumps and bruises for their trouble. That certainly is something Indiana will look to bounce back from tonight in a tight Central Division.
Sacramento Kings (13-20) vs. Brooklyn Nets (18-15)
DeMarcus Cousins' relationship has been rocky with Keith Smart. That might even be an understatement. Cousins is playing extremely well since his return to the lineup from that suspension and Smart called Cousins the player that makes things work for the Kings. There is no doubting that as Sacramento is all of a sudden playing pretty well. The Nets decided are not.
Houston Rockets (19-14) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-26)
Carlos Delfino was a bit sad to leave Milwaukee after a few years playing for the Bucks. Delfino has grown for the Rockets though and Kevin McHale admires his shooting for this offensive-minded Houston team. So far this season, Delfino is averaging 9.5 points per game in 25.1 minutes per game off the bench for the Rockets.
Portland Trail Blazers (17-15) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-14)
There is some really bad news breaking out of Minneapolis this afternoon. Kevin Love broke the third metacarpal in his previously broken left hand in Thursday's win over Portland. Love left the game in the third quarter after taking a swipe at the ball and having his hand hit. This is another really bad break for the Wolves, no other way to say it, as Ricky Rubio has also been out with back spasms.
New Orleans Hornets (7-25) vs. Dallas Mavericks (13-20)
Dirk Nowitzki will make his first start of the season tonight as the Mavericks take on the Hornets. Nowitzki is averaging 10.0 points per game in 22.0 minutes per game but has seen his minutes creep up and has seen his production continue to increase. I guess now is the time for Dirk to go full go.
Philadelphia 76ers (15-19) vs. San Antonio Spurs (26-9)
Wondering what is up with Andrew Bynum? You may not have to wonder long. The report is that the 76ers will update Bynum's status when they return from their West Coast trip. The West Coast trip that has Philadelphia at 2-5 before tonight's closing visit to San Antonio.
Utah Jazz (17-17) vs. Denver Nuggets (18-16)
Mo Williams surgery went great. What that means for the Jazz though is still uncertain. Utah won last night against Phoenix and has been able to hold the boat steady. Now comes a big game for standings purposes and more tests as the Jazz fight to stay in the Playoff hunt.