From the moment the Los Angeles Clippers step on the floor for the first time, they'll be trying to overcome adversity.
Without their leading scorer and a key member of the backcourt, the Clippers open the season against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night at Staples Center.
Los Angeles will try to bounce back from a disappointing 2006-07 where it finished 40-42 and was eliminated from postseason contention on the season's final day after reaching the second round of the Western Conference playoffs the year before.
In order to make that possible, the Clippers must overcome the early absences of star Elton Brand and guard Shaun Livingston.
Brand, who averaged 20.5 points and 9.3 rebounds last season, tore his Achilles' tendon working out in August and it's uncertain when he will return.
"Elton's one of our leaders on this ballclub, but he's out,'' guard Sam Cassell said. "It's going to be difficult, but I'm confident that we'll be all right. We're going to shock a lot of people, I think. The key to our whole season is how hard we play."
Livingston, who was making strides in his third season by averaging 9.3 points and 5.1 assists, is recovering after tearing three ligaments in his left knee on Feb. 26.
With both out indefinitely, veterans like Cassell, Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman and Cuttino Mobley will be expected to expand their roles to fill the offensive voids.
Maggette looks to bounce back after averaging 16.9 points - his lowest in the last four seasons. He averaged 18.0 in four games against Golden State in 2006-07.
The Clippers should also expect more from the 7-foot Kaman, who averaged just 10.1 points and 7.8 rebounds after signing a five-year contract extension worth over $50 million early last season.
Los Angeles will also be counting on free agent pickups Brevin Knight and Ruben Patterson.
"I think we have made some good additions on this roster," Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said. "We have some veterans, we have some younger players, so it's a good mixture. We have players now who can really run and give us an up-tempo team offense. But it depends on the team you're playing against."
That could work against the Warriors, who allowed a league-worst 106.9 points per game last season and opened 2007-08 with a 117-96 loss to Utah on Tuesday.
The teams split four games last season, but the Clippers won both meetings at Staples and will try for their seventh straight home victory over the Warriors.
The Warriors (0-1) will also be without one of their top players as volatile swingman Stephen Jackson has six games remaining on his NBA-mandated suspension after pleading guilty to a felony charge of criminal recklessness after firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis strip club.
"We have to be a scrappy team (without Jackson)," said guard Baron Davis, who had 25 points and 10 assists Tuesday. "That's what made us successful. Guys have to step up. We're not too worried. We just have to go back to the drawing board. Last year, we lost our first game, too."
Though Davis played reasonably well, the Warriors were outrebounded 56-37 and turned the ball over 20 times against Utah. Golden State has not started 0-2 since 2004-05.
"We played one good quarter, and that was the end of us," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "We missed Jackson for sure, but I don't know if he was a game-breaker."
Davis, who led the team with 20.1 points and 8.1 assists last season, averaged 22.3 points and 8.0 assists in three games versus Los Angeles in 2006-07.
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