Andrew Bogut would've been everybody's first choice (including by his teammates, who love him for it) for early and frequent skirmishing with assorted Clipper players in this much-anticipated first-round meeting, but Bogut is out with a fractured rib.

So who else on the Warriors could get into the tussling right off the bat -- rhetorically or otherwise -- starting bright and just after noon Saturday in Game 1 at Staples Center?

Well, Klay Thompson wasn't the one I would've immediately thought of, but he got it going pretty good when he discussed some of the reasons Blake Griffin irritates the Warriors on 95.7 FM with my friends Papa and Lund Wednesday.

That discussion spread like wildfire, obviously. I'm sure the Clippers will have some retorts today. The Warriors might have retorts to the retorts. They probably won't be having pregame chapel with each other.

Psst: The two teams really trend toward not liking each other.

My guess is that the headline players will try to stay out of the rougher stuff because it's a playoff series and you can't lose your best players -- Griffin, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, David Lee -- to suspensions.

At this point, Jermaine O'Neal might fall into the "too important" category because he steps into Bogut's starting center role and if the Warriors lose him, things start to get mighty desperate in the middle for them.

(Though otherwise I would list O'Neal as very large favorite to start tangling with Griffin, since their level of distaste for each other is beyond question.)

There is the possibility of a Clipper player getting in Thompson's face for taking verbal swings at Griffin, but I think that'll be just normal NBA back-and-forth and Klay has to this point never displayed a bad temper on the court.

No, I'd think the likeliest early-intensity matchup might come from the Warriors' Draymond Green and the Clippers' Matt Barnes and I think this series might not really start until there is some kind of flare-up between the two very fiery competitors.

Everybody on both teams will be waiting for it.

I know the Warriors players are eagerly anticipating all of this and one joked to me that the best stat to track might be technical fouls on both teams during the series ... and who's eligible to play in the remaining games as the techs and potential suspensions pile up.

I don't say all this as a way to root for violence -- I hope if anything happens, it's the normal NBA push and shove and ejection deal, no punches thrown, nobody gets hurt, it stays far away from the stands.

Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin (32) and Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut (12) get in a fight as Cippers’ DeAndre Jordan (6) tries
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (32) and Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut (12) get in a fight as Cippers' DeAndre Jordan (6) tries to break it up in the second half of a NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Green was called for a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected of the game in the fourth period of the Warriors 105-103 win. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

But I think it's clear that both sides are looking at this series largely as a showdown. Who's tougher than the other guy and what side can show the most effective amount of physical play?

The coaches will be involved in the by-play, and the officials, and the executives, and everybody.

  • Pretty impressive: After the #halfsquad victory in Denver last night, the Warriors ended up with the third-best road record in the NBA, at 24-17, behind only San Antonio (30-11) and Oklahoma City (25-16).

    Yes, the Warriors had a better road record than both Indiana (21-20) and Miami (22-19), and both of those teams played far more road games against terrible Eastern teams.

    And the Warriors' road record ended up only a tick behind their home record of 27-14, by the way.

    How does that translate to this series against the LACs?

    Well, the Warriors are going to need a victory at Staples to win this series -- and history says it must come in one of the first two games. (Teams that win the first two games at home in a seven-game series have gone on to win the series 94.3 percent of the time in NBA history, according to whowins.com.)

    So the Warriors have proved they have a better shot than most at picking off a road victory ... thought they lost both games at Staples against the Clippers this season.

    And the Clippers, at 34-7, finished in a tie for the second-best home record.

    Looking ahead to when this gets to Game 3 at Oracle: The Warriors tied for the ninth-best home record ... and the Clippers tied for the fourth-best road record.

    Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.