The Warriors have a tough schedule at the beginning of the season but it is still manageable. Even the games they might be expected to lose are winnable. The Warriors will have a great opportunity to build some confidence on the road early on which will be a strong indicator as to whether or not they will be a playoff team. Here is a brief preview and analysis for the first 10 games of the schedule.
At home against Houston, Opening Night.
The Warriors should have tons of energy for this game playing for a new coach in a new system and having defined roles for everyone for the first time in years. The Rockets will be welcoming the return of Yao Ming, but only for 24 minutes of the game. The Rockets look to be a better team on paper based upon their depth and coaching experience so I will concede defeat to this team, but again the energy factor just might be the difference in an upset. Rockets win.
Los Angeles Clippers at home
This is a must win game for the Warriors because we will have to win these 50/50 games if we plan on making the playoffs this year. Blake Griffin has looked ridiculous in the preseason and Baron Davis will probably play well in this game since he's a former Warrior. Nonetheless, Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and David Lee should win every matchup from a positional standpoint and Keith Smart should be able to outcoach the less than genius Vinny Del Negro in their first meeting. Depending on who you're a fan of you could make the case for either team to win, so of course I will choose the Warriors. Warriors win.
At the Los Angeles Lakers
If Kobe Bryant is not completely healthy . . . this team should still beat us. But with Pau Gasol having to contend with David Lee and Andris Biedrins, there's reason to be a bit more confident than usual for this matchup. Kobe will have to chase Monta Ellis around the floor and Derek Fisher will have to chase Stephen Curry. Watch out for those two battles. The Lakers still play far better defense and have figured out that they need to win these games early in the season so that they can rest for the playoffs. Not to mention that they will have a big advantage in the coaching and matchup departments. Lakers win.
Memphis Grizzlies at Home
The Grizzlies also fall into the "must win" category much like the Clippers and Rockets. It can't be emphasized enough that the Dubs have to win these games in order to make the playoffs. In banking on the idea that this team is now mature enough to realize that then I will have to pick the W's as a winner in this one. David Lee's presence cannot be underestimated as he will now cancel out what most power forwards in the league can or will do to us. That would include Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies do have more depth but the Warriors will have the home crowd behind them to help out in the energy department. Warriors win.
Utah Jazz at Home
So here we are at 2-2 facing a crossroads. If the Dubs win this one they will truly be making a statement. Stephen Curry will be the key to this game because he looked like Deron Williams' little brother every time they played last year. If he can hold his own than the Dubs might pull this one out. Since Deron knows he will have to play like an MVP every game this year I suspect that he will take full advantage of exploiting Curry's defensive weaknesses as well as the team's. Here's to Keith Smart switching Ellis on to Williams and hopefully slowing him down. Otherwise it will be a Jazz victory.
Check back for part II and the next five games tomorrow.