May 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) shoots the ball against San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first quarter in game three of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 102-92. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
After a phenomenal postseason, the Golden State Warriors are a relevant team once again. And with relevance comes rivalries. Let’s take a look at the three most anticipated matchups for 2013-14.
San Antonio Spurs
This one is the most obvious of the three and I can say without a doubt, there will not a be a time in the near future where the San Antonio Spurs and Warriors will play and the announcers will not make a reference to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Two teams that were pitted against each other in a battle of youth versus experience, three-pointers versus fadeaway jumpers off the glass. This series was incredibly close and was a breakdown away in Game 1 from being a seven game series. While it is easy to generalize the Warriors as young and the Spurs as old, some of the best play from both teams came from the opposing age groups with Andrew Bogut sublimating years of frustration from injuries into great play on both ends of the court and Kawhi Leonard displaying tremendous potential.
This matchup is one rooted in history and the Spurs-Warriors series was nothing short of historic. It will set the pace and expectation for further meetings between these teams.
Los Angeles Clippers
This rivalry can be summarized in one succinct video. Well not really, but you get the idea. This rivalry is rooted in the fact that these teams have experienced similar growth periods over the last few years and are trying to engineer new identities for themselves as contenders. It will truly be a historic year when the Warriors and Clippers fight for the top two spots in the Pacific Conference and could possibly be the only teams from that conference to make the playoffs. In 2012-13, the Warriors were one of three teams to win the season series against the Clippers, the others being the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, and handed the Clippers their first loss of the season that year as well.
The Clippers and Warriors will play each other four times this year, one of them on the coveted Christmas Day time slot, lending more credence to this emerging rivalry. Like the rivalries between the “Texas Triangle” teams, the Clippers-Warriors rivalry will be naturally exacerbated by a rivalry between Northern and Southern California. With both teams showing so much potential and room for growth, this rivalry will certainly be one for the ages.
You can apply everything I said about “potential and room for growth” about the Clippers to the Houston Rockets as well. This is a franchise that is very young and hungry for a title. They also have a great deal of pressure on them to succeed given the acrobatics they had to go through to get All-Star Dwight Howard. In that sense, the Rockets and Warriors are very similar, as they are both teams with very young stars and both teams that put a lot on the line to acquire key free agents this summer.
The Warriors are Rockets are teams that are looking to establish a greater foothold in the Western Conference. Both teams will consider it to have been an unsuccessful season if they do not reach the Conference Finals, something contributing to the extremely competitive environment of the West. The Warriors went lost three of their four games against Houston and will look to do better than next season.