Got ‘em? Excellent. Let’s proceed.
After a condensed season in 2011-2012 created an unbalanced schedule, Oracle will host a full 41-game slate this year. That means every NBA team will pay Oakland a visit, but here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re all about quality. You don’t need to check out every home game. I mean, do you really need to see the Raptors on March 4 or the Bobcats December 21? Of course you don’t.
Here are a few contests you will want to circle on your calendar, though:
Friday, November 2 vs. Memphis
Oracle will be primed to explode for the Warriors’ first home game. There’s been a lot of talk about a culture change over the past year. But there have also been some major personnel maneuvers that have fans actually believing the hype. Add the facts that it’s a Friday night and the Grizzlies look to be a prime competitor for a bottom-four playoff spot and you’ve got a serious powder keg situation. The Warriors will be eager to show fans that things are going to be different in 2012-2013. They’ll get their first chance to blow the top off of Oracle on November 2.
Saturday, December 22 vs. LA Lakers
Warrior fans know that when the Lakers come to town, the crowd tends to sport a huge amount of purple and gold. The Lakers have long been a marquee franchise with followers (or frontrunners, depending on how honest you really want to be) all over the state. Whether or not LA comes to Oakland with a certain disgruntled Orlando Magic center, they’ll be a playoff threat and a great test for the Warriors. But the game will also be a test to see if real Warrior fans can outnumber Laker transplants in the stands. It’s been a while since that happened, but if this really is a new era in Golden State, that could finally change.
Wednesday, January 16 vs. Miami
Can’t miss the champs. Miami comes to Oracle a couple weeks into the new year and they’re sure to draw a mid-week sellout. Lebron generally chews up the Warriors—averaging 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for his career—but he does that to just about everyone. The Heat feature the type of athletic, physical wings that have destroyed the Warriors’ porous defense for years. This game will be a solid test of whether the addition of Andrew Bogut will provide enough of a presence on the inside to cover up for a shaky defensive perimeter.
Saturday, March 9 vs. Milwaukee
This is the big one. Monta Ellis will show up March 9 to exact revenge on the team that traded him last spring. If there’s one thing we know about Ellis, it’s that he can score. If there are two things we know, the second thing is that he often scores in bunches to the detriment of his team. Expect Ellis to play with a chip on his shoulder and jack up at least 30 “how dare you trade me for an Australian with a broken foot” shots.
Milwaukee doesn’t project to be a particularly powerful squad this year, and unless they figure out how to play with two basketballs at once, Ellis and Brandon Jennings will probably be at each other’s throats long before this game. But nonetheless, Ellis will arrive looking to light Oracle up. Expect some fireworks.
Monday, April 15 vs. San Antonio
There’s a good chance this game ends up being a strange one. For the past 15 years, San Antonio has generally had a top-four playoff spot sewn up by this point. So there’s a good chance the Spurs don’t play their regulars against the Warriors. But maybe, just maybe, this will be the game where Golden State clinches a playoff spot. Though improved on paper, if the Warriors expect to make the playoffs, they’re not likely to do better than the seventh or eighth seed. That means they may not snag a spot until the very end of the year.
The last time the Warriors made the postseason, they had to beat the Portland Trailblazers on the final day of the 2006-2007 season. Maybe this year’s team will do the “We Believe” squad one better and clinch on the second-to-last game of the year against San Antonio.