There's finally rest for the weary.
The Los Angeles Clippers got two consecutive days of rest for the first time all season as they prepare to host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Clips concluded a brutal stretch that saw them play 10 games in 16 days including seven on the road. Since the start of the season, the team has played 22 games in 38 days without back-to-back days off.
The excruciating NBA schedule finally caught up with the veteran-laden Clippers on Sunday in a 111-102 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
"They looked really well-rested," said Blake Griffin. "Rest does a lot for a team, this is only their second game since we played them in Indiana. Two games in seven days… I think that has a lot to do with it."
It's true. The Pacers defeated the Clippers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 27, and had just one game before traveling to Los Angeles to face them again. Indiana got four days off between playing the Portland Trailblazers and the Clippers, plenty of time to get back stars Paul George, C.J. Miles and Kevin Seraphin.
The difference in a rested team and a team that had played four games over the same span was noticeable, and it's something the Clippers hope will play in their favor when they host the Warriors on Wednesday.
"We've been talking about this for weeks now," added Griffin about the back-to-back days off before the NBA's newest "Superteam" rolls into town. "It's like that vacation you've always planned that you thought was never going to get here, and now it's finally here. This is huge for us."
The Clippers will need any advantage they can get when they host the team with the best record in the NBA (18-3). The Warriors high-octane offense is firing on all cylinders coming into the highly anticipated matchup, scoring at least 132 points in three straight games and fresh removed from a 142-106 whooping of the Pacers on Monday.
Klay Thompson scored 60 points in that game in just 29 minutes, and the Warriors most efficient shooter is ready to spice up the rivalry with the Clippers.
"We were a team trying to break through and make the playoffs in previous years," Thompson said on Wednesday about the rivalry. "They were trying to do the same thing, as far as make noise in the playoffs. We both had an edge to ourselves and we haven't lost it. They're still hungry to get to that championship level. You can see that, but so are we."
Thompson is correct in his assessment. When the two teams met in the Playoffs a few years ago and it went seven games, a series the Clippers won 4-3, the two teams were considered to be California rivals that would battle for championships for years to come.
However, since that playoff exit, the Warriors have been to back-to-back NBA Finals and won it all in 2014-2015. The Warriors have dominated the rivalry since then, sweeping the Clippers in all four meetings last season, and winners of six straight overall against the Southern California foes.
The most recent beat down provided by the Warriors was a 45-point thumping, 120-75 in the preseason on Oct. 4 at Oracle Arena.
Wednesday will be the first clash of these two Western Conference titans of the regular season, and first since the glorified exhibition game. If anything, the matchup will be a measuring stick for both teams, and the Clippers first taste of newest Warrior, Kevin Durant.
"They're a top team in the West, a top team in the league no matter what," said Griffin at practice on Tuesday. "Yeah, it's a different type of game than if you're playing the last seed in the East. Absolutely it is. I'd be lying to come in and just say it's a regular game."
The Warriors have won 14 of their last 15 games, whereas the Clippers have struggled as of late, losers of four of the last six. Fatigue could have played a factor in those games, but not on Wednesday as the Clippers will be the more fresh team and will have no excuses when the final buzzer rings.
Tip-off between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers will be at 7:30PM at Staples Center.