Last week the NBA unveiled its schedule for this upcoming season, and already projections have begun to pop up all over the internet and on TV.
As our own Angelo Mendoza pointed out the Golden State Warriors are looking like more of an underdog this season, as ESPN projects the Warriors to finish with two less wins than last year at 49-33. While the Dubs seem to thrive with their us against the world mentality, they’ll face plenty of challenges to prove critics wrong in the 2014-2015 season. With that said, here are three stretches that could dictate where the Warriors stand come playoff time.
October 29th-November 30th
Right from the get-go things wont be easy for the Golden State Warriors. Ten of the team’s first 16 games are on the road including a five-game east coast road trip to end November. Nine of their first 14 opponents had a record over .500 last year and eight of them qualified for the playoffs last season.
If that wasn’t enough, the Warriors will have to go back-to-back four times in November. Those games are against the Lakers at home followed by the Trailblazers in Portland, at Houston and at Phoenix just a week later, home against Charlotte and then off to L.A. to face the Lakers once again, and at Miami followed by Orlando.
The good news for the Warriors? Their record on the road last season was 24-17, good enough for third best in the NBA.
The bad news? They were 19-25 against teams over .500. It’s a tough break that Golden State’s hardest test will likely be in the season’s first month, but it will give new head coach Steve Kerr the chance to prove his worth early on.
February 3rd-March 2nd
Oracle Arena might feel like a foreign place when the Warriors play the Bucks there on March 4th next year, because the team will only play two games at home the entire month of February.
Who do they play in those two games? The defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, who the Warriors were 0-4 against last season, and the always tough Dallas Mavericks (the Warriors were 3-1 against the Mavs last season though). Minus stops in Sacramento and Minnesota, the rest of the schedule is almost exclusively on the east coast.
Despite a tough six-game road trip that will see the Warriors play four Eastern Conference playoff teams from last season plus Lebron James and the new look Cavaliers, Golden State should feel confident about their chances in February. Their fantastic record on the road from a year ago has already been noted and the team was respectable against the much weaker Eastern Conference, going 20-10.
Granted, the Eastern Conference has improved over the off-season and that much time away from home could have a negative affect on the Golden State Warriors. But, long road trips can also be the best time to build up team chemistry and create momentum. It would not be shocking to see the Warriors thrive during this tough stretch and enter March with a head of steam.
March 14th-March 23rd
While the Warriors were fantastic on the road a year ago, there is no question that the team loves playing in front of their home fans at “Roaracle”. In mid-March the Warriors will have their second six-game home stand of the season. There they must take advantage of the weaker opponents who will come through Oakland during that time.
The six teams the Warriors will play over that stretch had a combined record of 205-287 last season, with the Washington Wizards being the only team that had a winning record.
The playoff picture will be coming into place at that point in the season and with it many lackluster opponents. The Golden Warriors will face all of those opponents at home, all in a row, and will have a chance to make huge strides in the Western Conference standings.
If the Warriors fancy themselves as a top five team in the Western Conference they will need at least 30 wins at home. For those wondering, they went 27-14 last season, which was tied for 8th best in the NBA) While 6-0 might be a stretch, a 5-1 or even 4-2 home stand against these weaker teams could prove to be the thing that puts Golden State among the Western Conference’s elite.