OAKLAND – Sorry, LeBron James, but the NBA won’t have to wait until Christmas Day this year to see the first big East-West clash of conference titans. The big gift is coming early.

While the Warriors do play the Cleveland Cavaliers, their NBA Finals opponent the past three seasons, on Christmas again this year, there is much more anticipation at the moment for Golden State’s Thursday night meeting with the Boston Celtics.

While the Cavaliers are scuffling along at 7-7, the Celtics are the runaway leaders of the Eastern Conference, and entering their Tuesday night meeting against Brooklyn, they had won 12 straight games. The Warriors, meanwhile, will enter TD Garden at 11-3 and on a seven-game roll.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr actually seemed to be a bit exhilarated to be cranking up the hype machine for a stout opponent other than the Cavs. He gushed that this should be a thrilling junket for his club with subsequent stops in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Oklahoma City to follow up the big Boston showdown.

“I’m really excited for this trip,” said Kerr Tuesday following the team’s final home practice. “Boston will be electric the way they’re playing, with that crowd. Obviously, Oklahoma City will be emotional still, and it’s always fun to play in Philadelphia and New York. Basketball hotbeds, great crowds … it’s going to be a really fun trip.”

The Warriors definitely be road-tested over the next three weeks. Aside from a brief stop at Oracle Arena in late November, where they will play three games in four nights and then leave again, nine of the next 12 games will be away from Oracle Arena.

They might as well start the cross-country odyssey off with a bang, and this early-season meeting with Boston definitely fills that bill. Despite losing star free agent acquisition Gordon Hayward just minutes into his debut and dropping their first two games, the Celtics have been scintillating ever since. They lead the league in team defense, allowing just 94 points per game, and have also limited their opponents to the lowest shooting percentage (42.8) and fourth lowest 3-point percentage (32.1).

That makes for an intriguing test against a Warriors team that leads the NBA in offense and averages 119.6 points a contest, shooting a gaudy league-best 52.0 percent overall and 41.3 from 3-point range.

Kerr doesn’t think Boston’s astounding defensive numbers are a fluke, and that the Warriors will get a stern test from …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

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Christmas comes early: Warriors’ clash with Celtics may top traditional Cavs showdown

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