After the completion of 82 regular games in the NBA regular season, the Playoffs are here and some huge matches have been set up, but all the first round games look inferior in front of San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Clippers clash.
Many might have hoped to see these two teams meet later in the competition, but their conference finish of third (Clippers) and sixth (Spurs) in the Western Conference have led to this crucial encounter.
It is unfortunate one of the teams have to drop out of the competition so early on, but there are some positives to be taken from this clash so early in the competition as a victory here would help the triumphant team in the best of seven series to be a confident unit in the further rounds of the competition.
If Clippers were given the option of picking any team for the first round of the Playoffs, defending champions Spurs would have not been in their happy-to-play list.
''Playing the defending champs in the first round, that's tough, but I think we're up for the challenge," AP quoted Clippers' Jamal Crawford as saying.
With experienced players such as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, the Spurs know what it takes to clinch the Playoffs and expect these players to deliver when the chips are down.
Both the teams have finished the regular season on a high winning nine out of their last 10 games. The Clippers have won seven games on a trot, while the Spurs may have lost their last game of the season against New Orleans Pelicans, 103 to 108, but they defeated teams such as Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Houston Rockets prior to their last loss.
Hence, neither teams would be short of confidence when they take one another at Staples Center with Clippers, who enjoy an impressive home record of 30-11.
Spurs' on the road record is not that great where they have won 22 and lost 19. The Clippers would like to take this home advantage to good effect.
Duncan knows about Clippers hot form and feels they are playing an in-form team. ''We're starting on the road against one of the hottest teams playing right now,'' Duncan said.
''We're comfortable playing on the road. We've been through just about every situation possible, so we have the capacity and we have the experience to be able to start a series on the road.''
The game between the two should be an enthralling contest with Clippers having their major squad to pick from while for Spurs', Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner are doubtful for the intriguing clash.
Where to Watch Live
The NBA Playoffs Round 1 game between San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers is scheduled for 10:30pm ET (8am IST, 3:30am BST) start.
Viewers in the US can watch the game live on TNT.
Indian viewers can watch it live on Sony Six.
NBA fans can also watch the Playoffs live on NBA.com