73-9 in the regular season. Coming back from 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. Losing in Game 7 after a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Adding one of the best players in the NBA via free agency and stealing him away from a rival in the process. A lot has happened since the the 2015-2016 regular season concluded back in April, a season in which the Warriors became the greatest regular season team of all-time with a 73-9 record.
Before getting into the recent comments from Warriors General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers in regard to resting players, let’s take a look at the games that the Warriors lost last season:
Any Common Threads To Their Losses?
The Warriors were 2-5 in games in which they did not score at least 100 points.
7 of the 9 losses were on the road.
6 of the 9 losses were on the first or second night of a back-to-back.
6 of the 9 losses occurred on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Saturday, December 12th at Milwaukee
Bucks 108 – Warriors 95
The Warriors were pushed to the limit the previous night in a 124-119 win in double-overtime at Boston. The Warriors shot 22.2% from deep (6-27) and their bench shot 33.3% (10-30), while Greg Monroe (28 points, 11 rebounds), Giannis Antekokounmpo (11 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) and Michael Carter-Williams (17 points, 7 assists, 5 steals) led the Bucks to victory.
Wednesday, December 30th at Dallas
Mavericks 114 – Warriors 91
Steph Curry sat this one out with a bruised left leg, the Mavericks shot 51.9% from three and Ian Clark led the Warriors in scoring.
Wednesday, January 13th at Denver
Nuggets 112 – Warriors 110
Draymond Green sat out due to rest. The Nuggets shot an astounding 37 (!) foul shots, hitting 33 of them, including 17-19 from the charity stripe for Danilo Gallinari.
Saturday, January 16th at Detroit
Pistons 113 – Warriors 95
It was a packed house in Detroit as the Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s number. The Pistons had six different players score in double-figures.
Friday, February 19th at Portland
Trail Blazers 137 – Warriors 105
This was the first game for Golden State coming off of the All-Star break. Damian Lillard went for 51 points, Portland shot 56.7% from deep and the Warriors committed 20 turnovers.
Sunday, March 6th at Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers 112 – Trail Blazers 95
This was an early start for the Warriors, and there is a 100% chance there were libations involved Saturday night.
Saturday, March 19th at San Antonio
Spurs 87 – Warriors 79
The Dubs only shot 10 foul shots and went 9-36 from deep, as the Spurs prevailed behind 26 points and 13 boards from LaMarcus Aldridge.
Friday, April 1st vs. Boston
Celtics 109 – Warriors 106
The Warriors turned the ball over 22 times and the Celtics rallied behind Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner and the immortal Jared Sullinger. Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes missed three-pointers in the closing seconds as the Celtics held on.
Tuesday, April 5th vs. Minnesota
Timberwolves 124 – Warriors 117
Minnesota prevails in overtime behind 32 points from Andrew Wiggins and 35 from Shabazz Muhammad.
What Should We Expect for 2016-2017?
Last week, Myers alluded to the Warriors potentially taking a more proactive approach this season to resting players:
“The last two years I think have taught all of us within the organization that, everybody says it’s a marathon, but it really is,” Myers said on Thursday. “We realized last year that mile 24 — I haven’t run a marathon, maybe some of you have — but they say that once you hit mile 20 or 21, the last five miles are the worst. And I think we learned last year that you gotta have something at mile 24, gotta have something at mile 25. I think we all have to take, us and the organization, have to take the approach that it’s a long road. We gotta have some juice.”
With or without rest, NBA fans still be able to catch the Warriors quite a bit this season. The Warriors play a whopping 28 times on ABC, ESPN and TNT. Add in 9 games being played by the Warriors on NBA TV, and that’s almost half of the Warriors games that will be broadcast nationally. This is awesome for all NBA fans, and a job well done from the NBA schedule folks.
The Warriors have some stretches of the schedule that don’t appear particularly taxing. For example, after playing in Cleveland on Christmas Day, the Warriors are at home for 9 out of the next 10 games, and don’t leave the state of California again until January 20th. They also finish the season with 6 of 7 games at home.
However, the Warriors have a number of difficult games to navigate this season, particularly on the road. With Myers’ comments about rest, and some of the daunting back-to-backs that the Warriors will face this season, the prediction of around 66.5 wins from Vegas may be a tad high. Let’s run through this year’s schedule and outline where and why we can expect to see some losses from the Warriors on this year’s schedule, which also can double as opportunities to rest players:
Monday, November 1st at Portland
Portland will look to make an early season statement on NBA TV against a team they are very familiar with. Damian Lillard likes to come out firing against his hometown team, as last season he had games of 51, 40 and 38 points during the regular season against the Warriors.
Thursday, November 3rd vs. Oklahoma City
Russell. Westbrook. Against. The. World.
RING THE BELL.
Thursday, November 10th at Denver
Denver is going to be an intriguing team this season and they catch the Warriors on the 2nd night of a back to back in this one. Nikola Jokic is going to be a star, Wilson Chandler returns and they have a wealth of length and confidence on the wing with Gallo, Chandler, Will Barton and Gary Harris.
Friday, November 18th at Boston / Saturday, November 19th at Milwaukee
The NBA runs this two-game stretch back from last season. The Celtics forced the Warriors into 40 turnovers in the two games played last season and with Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and draft pick Jaylen Brown, they are one of the few teams in the NBA with the perimeter personnel to get through screens without having to switch. Add in that Jae Crowder is angry, a spurned home crowd on a Friday night in Boston and Brad Stevens doing Brad Stevens things, and Boston will make this hard for Golden State.
The next night, Milwaukee gets a gift the second year in a row, getting the Warriors on a Saturday night when they were in Boston the night before. The Bucks have a ton of length and add in uber-pest Matthew Dellavadova, who plays Steph as physically as anybody. The loss of Khris Middleton hurts, but the Bucks have the lineup flexibility to throw a number of different looks at the Dubs.
Wednesday, December 7th at Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday, December 8th at Utah Jazz
Saturday, December 10th at Memphis
Sunday, December 11th at Minnesota
Wooooooo boy. A stretch of four games in five nights all on the road. There’s a lot to take in here. I’ll predict two losses for the Warriors over this stretch and here’s why:
It’s fair to say these teams do not like one another. The Rockets deprived everyone of a Clippers – Warriors WCF two years ago, and injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin derailed the Clippers last season. The Warriors have won 7 of 8 against the Clippers over the last two seasons, with the only Clippers win coming on Christmas Day back in 2014. Generally, the Clippers have played them close, with losses of 4, 7, 3, 4 and 8 points to the Warriors over the past two years. Potential difference this year? The drastically improved Clippers bench. “GM Doc” has taken a beating, and rightfully so, for some of his questionable acquisitions. However, Doc brought in Mo Speights, Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton and Alan Anderson all on minimum deals and right away there are more adults in the locker room.
Let’s go back to last season. On November 30th, the Jazz lost by three to the Warriors in Utah as Steph Curry broke a tie with a three-ball under a minute, as the Warriors held on. On March 30th, Utah was up by eight points with 6:18 left in the fourth. The one ingredient missing was stronger point guard play, and Shelvin Mack’s 4th quarter certainly proved that. In the fourth quarter alone, Mack committed three fouls, missed three shots (including a blocked shot in a tie game with :03 seconds left) and missed a free throw that would have put up Utah up by 4 with :24 seconds left. Let’s fast forward to this year, as the Jazz have acquired George Hill, who is legitimately the perfect player at the point for this Jazz team. Add in Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson, and the Jazz have a loaded team that should be much better in late game situations.
The Grizzlies grit and grind has appeared unsustainable for a while, but they’ve bucked the trend. They spent big this off-season to bring back Mike Conley and bring in Chandler Parsons. Dave Joerger is off to Sacramento, replaced by David Fizdale from Camp Coconut Grove. Memphis somehow went 26-15 at home last season with a 0.4 point differential and 0.5 net rating in home games.
I can hear the raspy yell of “ICE! ICE!” already. This Minnesota core is loaded and adds Tom Thibodeau to the mix. Basically, this Minnesota is going to be a total pain in the ass to play against, especially in Minnesota. The Warriors get this game on a back-to-back, fourth game in five nights, on a Sunday in Minnesota. Not ideal!
Friday, December 23rd at Detroit:
Detroit clipped the Warriors at home on a weekend game last season, and gets the Dubs on a Friday on the second night and the second night of a back-to-back in Detroit this season. The Pistons have length on the wings in Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell – Pope and Stanley Johnson and a strong 1-5 combination in Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond.
Sunday, December 25th at Cleveland
NBA Finals rematch, in Cleveland. Enough said.
Wednesday, January 18th vs. Oklahoma City
Russ. Against. The. World.
Sunday, January 22nd at Orlando
This is a 12:00 PM ET start which isn’t ideal for the Warriors. Orlando is going to struggle to score at times but they are loaded defensively with the likes of Elfird Payton, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo. Golden State was 2-5 last season in games in which they didn’t score 100 points and the Magic have the potential to hold the Warriors under 100 and steal this game.
Sunday, January 29th at Portland
The Warriors host the Clippers the night before in a nationally televised game on ABC and then have a quick turnaround heading to Portland.
Thursday, February 2nd at Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State hosts the Hornets the previous night and then have a date with the Clippers for the second time in a week.
Friday, February 10th at Memphis
Saturday, February 11th at Oklahoma City
With the All-Star break on the horizon, the Warriors get the Grizzlies on a Friday night in Memphis before Kevin Durant and the Dubs head to Oklahoma City for the first time of the 2016-2017 season.
First off, this is a week after the Super Bowl, and this nationally televised game will have MONSTER ratings. Two, the Thunder home crowd is routinely one of the best in the business, and with the circumstances here, I can’t imagine a more hostile, lit crowd in recent memory. This will be peak “Fury Road” Russell Westbrook. I can’t wait.
Sunday, March 5th at New York
Monday, March 6th at Atlanta
March isn’t very kind to the Warriors. The Dubs play nine road games in March, and eight of them are played on road back-to-backs. All eight of those games are against teams that should be above .500 on the season as well.
The first instance kicks off at Madison Square Garden on a Sunday afternoon at 3:30 ET. The Knicks will be significantly better with an actual coach at the helm this season, and if they stay healthy (a big if indeed) they should be solid this season. Add in a 3:30 start at MSG with the Warriors in town, and the crowd should be juiced up.
The next night, Golden State heads to Atlanta against a Hawks team that played them tight last year. In Atlanta last year on February 22nd, the Hawks rode a 36-point third quarter to a four-point lead early in the fourth before Steph and Klay took over for a 102-92 Warriors win. In Golden State on March 1st, Steph sat out due to his left ankle and the Hawks took the Warriors to overtime. The Hawks will look different this season, with Al Horford and Jeff Teague gone and Dwight Howard arriving, but have added two intriguing wings in Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry in the draft and will hand the keys to Dennis Schroder at the point.
Friday, March 10th at Minnesota
Playing Thibs in Minnesota with a bevy of young talent is never ideal especially when you…
Saturday, March 11th at San Antonio
…Have to go San Antonio the next night. The Spurs were 40-1 at home last season…although the one loss did come to San Antonio. This will be the time of year where rest scenarios will really come into play.
Monday March 20th, at Oklahoma City
Tuesday, March 21st at Dallas
The Warriors and KD get another tilt in Oklahoma City with human fireball Russell Westbrook and then travel to Dallas the next night. Depending on how the playoff picture looks, I think there’s a very slim chance we see all five starters for the Warriors playing in Dallas on March 21st.
Tuesday, March 28th at Houston
Wednesday, March 29th at San Antonio
Golden State heads to Houston to play the D’Antoni Rockets, who will resemble some of the 1980’s Denver Nuggets’ teams at times and then head back to San Antonio the next night.
How Many Wins Will We See Out Of The Warriors?
With a greater commitment from the organization regarding rest and the schedule, a record around 62-20 this season seems reasonable, even with Kevin Durant in the fold.