Draymond Green was pissed off on Christmas Day. His Golden State Warriors were "too nice" in a 100-86 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Don't expect Green and the Warriors to be sympathetic on Sunday when they face off against the Clippers at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC for the first time since that drubbing.
"We don't like each other," Andrew Bogut told Rusty Simmons of the SF Gate. "It's kind of one of those throwback games from back in the day, when there were flagrants and technicals and all of that type of stuff."
Green is ready for a battle, too. And he wants to the Warriors to be the aggressor. "When you've got two talented teams," he told Simmons, "the more physical team will probably win the game. That's the way you have to approach it."
It's the third matchup between the two teams this season. The Warriors dominated the first with a 121-104 victory, but were outmatched on Christmas Day. Last season, the teams split their four games before the Clippers prevailed in a thrilling seven-game series in the first round of the playoffs. Over their last 13 games, the Clippers hold a 7-6 edge.
This season, however, the Warriors have been the best team in the Western Conference. At 48-12, they have the best record in the West by five games. The Clippers aren't matching pace with the Warriors, but they're holding their own at 40-22, which is currently good enough for fifth in the West.
Both teams have hopes of winning the NBA Championship. That's one reason for the disdain between the two teams: They both want the same thing. "When you're fighting for something, (chippy) stuff tends to happen," Green told Simmons.
There's reason to be excited for Sunday's game -- the hate between these two teams is strong.
A history of chippiness
When we think of physical NBA rivalries, we think of tough defense and low scoring affairs. But that's not the case between the Clippers and the Warriors -- these are the two best offensive teams in the NBA this season. The Clippers lead the league an offensive rating of 109.6 and the Warriors are just behind them at 109.3. That's what happens when you have two of the best point guards in the game with Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.
But just because these teams score in bunches doesn't mean they're not physical -- and as Green and Bogut said, the teams don't like one another. There are plenty of on-court tangles and elbows to see why.
A fantastic look at the rivalry by Justin Russo over at Clips Nation from April 2014 lays out the altercations:
There was David Lee telling Blake Griffin to "stop flopping" as well Kent Bazemore and the Warriors bench going nuts when Blake Griffin hit the side of the backboard on a corner three, Festus Ezeli grabbing onto Griffin's arm which resulted in Griffin falling hard, a scuffle at the end of their Christmas Day game [in 2013], Griffin having three straight fast-break dunks which resulted in an iconic close-up of Mark Jackson, and Griffin's put-back dunk that woke up the entire arena.
Plus, there are off-court issues as well. Most teams hold chapel together before a game. On Halloween day in 2013, the Clippers broke tradition and refused to go have chapel with the Warriors, according to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group.
The Warriors really don't like Blake Griffin
Griffin will miss his 12th straight game after undergoing elbow surgery, but the Clippers-Warriors vitriol wouldn't be where it was today without Griffin. In fact, as seen above, most of the mix-ups involve Griffin.
The biggest altercation came on a wild Christmas Day in 2013, when Green threw an elbow at Griffin's throat. Green was called for a flagrant-2 foul and was ejected from the game. Griffin was given a technical foul. Not long after, Bogut and Griffin got tangled up beneath the hoop. Bogut was assessed a flagrant-1 foul and Griffin was called for another technical, which got him ejected. Doc Rivers said he thought that "Golden State was trying to get Blake thrown out of the game, and it worked."
It's not only the Warriors players who can get under Griffin's skin -- Warriors fans have reason not to like Griffin as well, he dumped water on a fan in a playoff loss last season.
With Griffin out, Green will be forced to target his trash talking elsewhere. And if he hits a big shot, he'll have to stick his tongue out at someone else.
Some things are bigger than basketball
Even if these teams have a history of malcontent, they know when things are more important than the game of basketball. Amidst the amazing first-round playoff series between the Clippers and Warriors, a gray cloud was cast on the NBA by the Donald Sterling fiasco.
The Warriors planned to boycott game five of the series if the punishment handed down to Sterling wasn't harsh enough. Marcus Thomspon of the Bay Area News Group reported:
The Warriors were going to go through pre-game warm-ups and take part in the national anthem and starting line-up introductions. They were going to take the floor for the jump ball, dapping up the Clippers players as is customary before games.
Then once the ball was in the air, they were just going to walk off. All 15 of them.
Thankfully, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handed out a punishment the NBA players felt was sufficient: Sterling was fined $2.5 million, forced to sell his team and was given a lifetime ban from the NBA.
The Clippers ended up winning that game and the series. They lost in the next round to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Warriors watched the rest of the playoffs from home. This season, they don't expect to exit so early. Neither do the Clippers. Both teams are fighting for supremacy. It will be physical and it will be tense. Sunday's game is must-watch, just like every game between these two teams.