David Lee will have to battle inside for Golden State to win.
In this burgeoning Pacific Division rivalry, the guards have gotten the most hype, and for good reason.
Chris Paul is playing MVP-caliber basketball for the Clippers, while Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe lead the league's best bench unit by far, per Hoopstats. Meanwhile, Golden State has played its best basketball when Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson are all on the floor.
These six guards demand the crowd's attention with the way they can light up the scoreboard. Save for Thompson, each of them is lightning quick, and all of them can nail threes with only the slightest bit of space.
However, when you look back at the three previous games this season, there is little correlation between which team won and how its guards played.
The Warriors blew out LA 115-94 when they met on Jan. 2, yet Paul and Crawford still combined for 47 points and 11 assists. Three days later, the Clippers smacked Golden State back, winning 115-89 while Vinny del Negro decided to sit Crawford for the game.
Take a look at the rebounding numbers, though, and it's easy to guess which team won the game.
Golden State couldn't hit threes in its first match at the Staples Center, but it came away with a 114-110 victory behind a 48-33 advantage on the boards, including 16-7 in offensive rebounds. The Warriors put up a similar 53-38 margin in their drubbing, and the Clippers turned the tides with a 41-30 edge in their big win.
Rebounding is particularly crucial for the Warriors, who are facing a defense that allows just 97.8 points per 100 possessions. Against such an efficient defense, quantity is the name of the game. The more shots Golden State puts up, the better the chance of winning.
That's why big men like David Lee and Carl Landry will make or break Golden State's game.
The more productive they are on the glass, the less productive Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be for Los Angeles. Lee and Landry combined for 20 and 22 rebounds in the Warriors' two wins against the Clippers, but they were held to just seven in their loss.
As exciting as the guys on the perimeter are in this matchup, the deciding factor will be the play inside. If the Warriors polish the glass at both ends, getting second-chance buckets and limiting Los Angeles' attempts, they will come away with a third win against one of the league's most formidable teams.