DENVER -- The Warriors will face the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, with the best-of-seven series beginning at Staples Center on Saturday.
The No. 6-seeded Warriors learned of their first-round opponent just before tipping off against Denver in the regular-season finale they won 116-112 while achieving their main goal of resting many of the top members of their rotation.
Coach Mark Jackson said the Clippers were a "big-time" challenge and the favorites with two of the top players in the world with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. But the Warriors appeared comfortable being the underdogs.
"I feel very confident in how we're playing, and what we'll be able to do in the series," guard Stephen Curry said.
"A lot of experts picked Denver last year, and who's to say they're 100 percent right? All that matters is our belief in what we can do."
The Warriors won their 51st game, tying them the third-most wins in franchise history and the most since the 1991-92 season, while Curry, Andre Iguodala, David Lee did not play. Jermaine O'Neal also did not make the trip.
Fortunately for the Warriors, they avoided overtime after Randy Foye's potential game-tying 3-pointer was originally ruled as having been goaltended by Draymond Green with 7.3 seconds left in regulation before referees overturned the call after a video replay.
Jordan Crawford came off the bench to lead the Warriors with a career-high 41 points, as Jackson started usual substitutes Steve Blake, Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights and Hilton Armstrong while using only seven players. Barnes set a career high as well, adding 30 points.
Klay Thompson started after guard Nemanja Nedovic was out with a calf injury, but Thompson was rested after playing eight minutes. He stayed in long enough to hit two 3-pointers, allowing him and Curry to finish with a combined 484 3-pointers this season break their record for most by a pair of teammates set last year.
Green was scheduled for a night off until Armstrong and Speights fouled out. The Warriors needed him for those three minutes as his tip-in off a missed Barnes free throw gave them a 113-108 lead with 29.6 seconds left. Blake added eight points, 15 assists and a career-high seven steals.
The Warriors, who split their season series against the Clippers, will play Game 2 of the series Monday night in Los Angeles before returning to Oracle Arena for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on April 27.
Golden State is expected to face a difficult road ahead with center Andrew Bogut likely out for what is expected to be a physical series.
"We've had some pretty intense matchups against the Clippers, so I'm sure guys are really going to lock in," Iguodala said.
"It'll be physical. They have a chippiness about them. They try to get you out of your game. We've got a group of guys, we aren't going to back down, but we won't let it affect our psyche."
It was Thompson who lobbed a verbal volley at Clippers star Griffin earlier in the day.
"He flops a little bit," Thompson told 95.7 The Game. "He flails his arms around, so you might catch a random elbow or something, and that doesn't rub off too well on guys, you know? He's kind of like a bull in a china shop, kind of out of control sometimes. And then you just do see him flop sometimes. Like how can a guy that big and strong flop that much?"
Bogut, who suffered a fractured rib Sunday, was disappointed to be out of action to start the playoffs.
"The Clippers, it's going to be a bloodbath, probably," Bogut told KNBR on Tuesday.
For more on the Warriors, see the Inside the Warriors blog at ibabuzz.com/warriors.
Game 1: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. at Los Angeles, ABC
Game 2: Monday, 7:30 p.m., at Los Angeles, TNT
Game 3: April 24, 7:30 p.m., at Warriors, TNT
Game 4: April 27, 12:30 p.m., at Warriors, ABC
Game 5*: April 29, TBD at Los Angeles
Game 6*: May 1, TBD at Warriors
Game 7*: May 3, TBD at Los Angeles, TNT
* -- if necessary