One can't win on the road. The other can't win at home. Something will have to give Saturday night when the Golden State Warriors visit the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just two years removed from sharing the NBA spotlight on Christmas and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the defending Western Conference champs and their four-time Finals rival meet in the obscurity of a large slate of games the night before the Super Bowl.
The clubs will be battling for lottery position, with the Warriors (10-39) trying to avoid becoming the league's first 40-game loser while the Cavaliers (13-36) seek not to be the first in the East to lose 37.
The Warriors have dropped five in a row overall and 10 straight on the road, including the first two on a five-game trip.
Those last two defeats were competitive against quality teams -- Philadelphia (115-104) and Boston (119-104) -- and now the schedule softens with Cleveland, Washington and Brooklyn in a row.
"We'll go into the next game with a lot of confidence," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson III assured reporters after Thursday's loss in Boston. "I think we are close to kind of breaking through."
No doubt, part of the confidence comes from facing the Cavaliers, who have lost two in a row overall and nine straight at home.
Like the Warriors, the Cavaliers were encouraged by their latest setback, a tight 115-109 home loss to Toronto on Thursday.
"It's something we can build on," Cavaliers coach John Beilein observed to the media afterward. "It just shows our growth, because last time we played them, they beat us a little bit. We played them down to the wire and it was really good tonight."
The game matches two former All-Stars whose names have been popular in trade speculation, including some rumors suggesting they be traded for each other.
The Warriors' D'Angelo Russell has been on a tear over his last 15 games, sandwiching a six-game absence due to a sore shoulder. He's averaged 26.6 points and 6.2 assists over that stretch, shooting 43.9 percent overall and 40.5 percent on 3-pointers.
He's made 68 threes in the previous 15 games.
The Cavaliers' Kevin Love, meanwhile, just completed a healthy month of January that demonstrated he's back on his game. He averaged 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in 14 games, shooting 46.4 percent overall and 40.0 percent on 3-pointers.
He made 42 threes in the 14 games.
Russell makes $27.3 million this season, while Love makes $28.9 million, so their salaries are a cap-compliant match.
The Warriors and Cavaliers will be meeting for the first time this season. Golden State has won eight of the last 10 regular-season matchups and captured 15 of the 22 head-to-heads in the 2015-18 NBA Finals, winning three of the four series.
Of course, most of those games featured Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and LeBron James, all of whom will not be participating Saturday night.
Also missing will be Kevin Durant, who joined the Warriors for their last three trips to the Finals, including last year's loss to Toronto.
Golden State will see Durant's new team -- Brooklyn -- later on the team's road trip.
--Field Level Media
Warriors, Cavs matchup notable for who's missing