The Golden State Warriros and Los Angeles Clippers aren't rivals. That's the story each side is selling, at least—although they might concede it's simply a matter of semantics.
"Call it what you want," Antonio Gonzalez of The Associated Press wrote. "On the court, there's no denying the players don't like each other."
If you had to pick a potential series capable of spurring some on-court fisticuffs, this is a no-brainer selection.
The on-court clashes have gotten pretty close to producing some physical battles already.
Things were testy before the teams even kicked off their regular-season series. The Clippers held separate chapel services from the Warriors before the team's first matchup.
That game featured a shoving match between centers Andrew Bogut and DeAndre Jordan, along with two technical fouls. Judging by their Christmas night contest, that first game constituted playing nice. The December 25th meeting featured two ejections, two flagrant fouls and three technical fouls.
The final two matchups were incident-free, although the margins of victory (the Warriors picked up a 19-point win on January 30, the Clippers won by 13 on March 12) may have played a large part in keeping everything calm.
The star power is strong on both sides of the equation, and each franchise is attempting to erase decades of futility by snagging a place among the NBA elites.
Oh, by the way, they're also likely on a collision course for a first-round playoff meeting.
"This is a good thing for anybody who likes intense, angry, rivalry basketball—because these two teams aren’t fond of each other, have gotten into more than a few scraps recently, and match up surprisingly evenly," Bay Area News Group's Tim Kawakami wrote.
How could a rivalry possibly get any better than that? Well, add in the best player on the planet and true championship connotations, and you'll get there.