Dec. 25 in Oakland. Jan. 30 in Oakland. March 2 in Los Angeles.
Those are the remaining regular season match-ups between the Warriors and Clippers. After Round 1 of the season series, which the Clippers won 126-115, you’ll want to see the next three. This is shaping up to be one of the most heated rivalries in the NBA.
“Both teams don’t really like each other,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “It is what it is.”
Certainly, Thursday’s game refreshed the bad blood between these franchises. It began last season, when Golden State took three of four against Los Angeles. The Warriors were the only team with three victories over the Clippers, who won 56 games last season, one of them a 21-point drubbing at Oracle.
The Clippers took exception to the Warriors’ celebration antics during their victories. Once at Oracle Arena, Golden State’s bench went exploded with hysterical laughter after Clippers forward Blake Griffin clanked a 3-pointer off the side of the backboard in Oracle. Another time, a few Clippers expressed dislike of Curry’s galloping down court after a big three-pointer late in a Warriors’ win.
New head coach Doc Rivers stoked those flames.
“The way we lost,” DeAndre Jordan, explaining the Clippers’ animosity with Golden State, said after Thursday’s game. “The amount of points that we lost by. We remember things like that. That was one of the first things that Doc reminded us about when he got the job. Golden State, they smacked us last year. We definitely remembered and we wanted to get those guys back from last year.”
Then before the game Thursday, the Clippers sent a message to the Warriors that the offseason didn’t dissipate the beef. They refused to have chapel with the Golden State.
It’s a long-standing tradition for Christians on both teams to have chapel together. Each NBA arena offers this service to the players, and there is always one time and one room. But according to multiple sources, the Warriors were surprisingly given a separate, earlier, time for their own chapel services. The Clippers wanted to keep their service private.
“Man, they don’t want to have chapel with us?” one team source asked. “I never heard that before, but OK.”
Late in the first quarter, Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Clippers star Blake Griffin exchanged words. Jackson said Griffin, taking the ball out, bumped into him twice.
“I wasn’t going to take it a third time. So …,” Jackson said with a straight face.
Jackson was asked if he thought Griffin might’ve just been unaware of what he was doing.
“I played in this league,” Jackson fired back quickly. “But it’s OK. Nothing personal.”
Last year, Jackson called Griffin a great actor. When Griffin was asked about the bumping incident, he responded with humor.
“Before the game coach said that we’ve got to find a body and box out,” Griffin told reporters after the game. “I just mistook him for someone else. It was my fault. It was nothing really.”
“He said something and I turned and looked at him as we were going down court,” Griffin said, explaining the exchange with Jackson, “then at the next time out he wanted to talk about it. I guess he thought it was more than I thought it was.”
The exchange grew from verbal to physical late in the second quarter, this time between Jordan and Warriors center Andrew Bogut.
Inside of 3 minutes left in the first half, Jordan called fervently for the ball so he could post up Bogut. He backed in and went up to shoot. Bogut planted a hard foul on Jordan, who took exception and shoved Bogut after the whistle. Of course, Bogut responded with a shove. Both were slapped with technical fouls after having to be separated.
“It’s just basketball,” Jordan said. “He fouled me. I thought he followed through a little bit and I want to definitely protect myself at all times. That’s really it. Nothing. It didn’t escalate anymore and that’s it.”
In the Warriors’ locker room, players downplayed the dislike aspect. Forward Andre Iguodala, who got his first dose of the intensity between the teams, said the rivalry talk is premature
“Certain teams kind of have that edge about them, for whatever reason,” Iguodala said. “They’re kind of one of those teams. Even playing in Denver last year, it was the same chippiness. So we kind of have to be smart about it. Neither team has really done anything for it to really be a rivalry. Somebody has to establish something. So we’ve got to stay focused on the path ahead.”
Said Griffin: “They’re a top team in the West and we’ve got to battle with them. Not every game you’re going to come out and be friendly with everybody, be talking and having fun. Sometimes you’ve got to get a little gritty. That’s what it was tonight. It wasn’t anything where we’re trying to hurt guys or we hate guys. It’s just we’re playing hard basketball.”