The Western Conference championship will not be decided Tuesday, but a potential coming attraction will be staged at Staples Center.
The NBA's two best records collide when the Thunder (32-9) and Los Angeles Clippers (32-10) meet at 9:30 p.m.
OKC and the Clippers are 1-2 in this week's NBA.com power rankings and in four months they could meet again to represent the West in the 2013 NBA Finals.
A bit of the shine was taken off Tuesday's game because both teams are coming off a loss.
The Thunder lost 121-118 in overtime at Denver on Sunday, while the Clippers lost 106-99 at Golden State on Monday after getting outscored 33-19 in the fourth quarter and 14-4 in the final 3½ minutes.
OKC offers three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook, who have comprised the league's highest-scoring tandem the last two seasons, plus power forward Serge Ibaka, who has blocked more shots than any player the last three seasons.
The Clippers feature five-time steals leader and two-time assist champion Chris Paul, an NBA slam dunk champion in former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin, plus this year's likely Sixth Man of the Year in Jamal Crawford.
Fans voted Durant, Paul and Griffin to start in the 62nd All-Star Game in Houston next month, while Westbrook is considered a lock to be voted on as a reserve by Western Conference coaches.
Westbrook has scored 30-plus points in a career-high four straight games. Although he suffered a sprained left ankle late in the first half Sunday, Westbrook is expected to start against the Clippers. Westbrook has yet to miss a game in his five-year career and his stretch of 353 consecutive games played is the NBA's longest active streak.
This season's previous meeting between the Thunder and Clippers went into overtime. OKC endured with a 117-111 victory on Nov. 21 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where Durant (nine) and Westbrook (six) scored all of their team's points in overtime.
“It was like a playoff game in November,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said that night.
The Clippers have beaten OKC four straight times at Staples Center and that streak likely will continue if the Thunder doesn't get a better contribution from its bench.
The Nuggets bench on Sunday outscored the Thunder bench 57-18, a season-high for Denver subs. Every OKC bench point was scored by sixth man Kevin Martin.
The Clippers' bench is so deep rumors swirl of a potential trade involving Eric Bledsoe, which coach Vinny Del Negro viewed as a positive.
“A lot of guys' names will come up, but that's a good thing,” Del Negro told the Los Angeles Daily News recently. “That means people want you. That's a positive thing. There'll be all these rumors out there and things being said, and most of them probably won't be very accurate.
“As guys' names are out there, we'll discuss things with them if there's anything to it or whatever. I don't see that being an issue for us. We've got pretty good balance on that and obviously, I'm always available.”
Bledsoe is averaging 18.9 minutes per game backing up Paul at point guard, but those minutes will become increasingly more difficult to find once Chauncey Billups returns from a foot injury.
Given how loaded the West is loaded with San Antonio (33-11), Memphis (26-14), Golden State (25-15) and Denver (25-18) all making noise, there is no guarantee the Thunder and Clippers are on a collision course for the conference crown.
However, both teams are steamrolling in that direction and one team will pick up a bit more steam Tuesday night.