The Warriors tip off their new season tonight (actually, 4 p.m. PT this afternoon) in a revenge game against Kevin Durant, with Steph Curry back, and a reasonable expectation that they'll return to their winning ways.
When you last saw your Golden State Warriors — and mind you, this was 287 days ago — they had just lost again to the LA Clippers, they were literally the worst team in the NBA, and that March 10 loss mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention. The very next day, the bizarre Rudy Gobert Jazz-Thunder game delay incident shut down the NBA season, effectively putting that Warriors team out of its misery. It was a “blip” year anyway; a hobbled Kevin Durent had bolted for Brooklyn and broke up the so-called Hamptons Five, Klay Thompson missed the entire season with an ACL injury, and Steph Curry broke his hand a mere five games into the season, and the Dubs’ first-to-worst fate was sealed.
The Warriors return to regular season action tonight, hoping to complete a first-to-worst-then-back-to-first full circle. It’s a revenge game against that very Kevin Durant and his new team the Brooklyn Nets, who are now also equipped with Kyrie Irving, with whom we have some history. This east coast game starts at a shockingly early 4 p.m. PT (TNT’s Inside the NBA pre-game show already started at 2 p.m. PT!), but what does it matter because time is meaningless right now anyway. They also have a Christmas Day game on Friday (11:30 a.m. PT), but it’s against Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks, so that’s a pretty brutal first two games.
But check out Steph Curry hitting circus shots from the stands in the video above, as he is back at full health, now sporting cornrows and a tapered shave. In other hair news, coach Steve Kerr grew himself a daddy beard. But in other health news, Klay Thompson will miss the whole season again, and Draymond Green will miss today’s game with a sore foot, but he’s likely back in the lineup by this weekend. Last year’s suckiness earned the Dubs the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft, which netted them possible superstar 7-foot center James Wiseman. Gaudy trade acquisition Andrew Wiggins, who played a mere 12 games for Golden State last year, is a reliable 20-points-a-night kind of guy.
Will the Warriors be championship contenders this season? Probably not! But they are likely to be good again. Las Vegas bookies are giving them 30-1 odds to win the title, which is not the front of the pack. But oddsmakers have them basically at even money to make the playoffs, making the Dubs a realistic playoff team. With that in mind, let’s enjoy an endless loop of Steph hitting half-court lobs before last Friday's exhibition contest in Sacramento.
Because there is another subplot to this season that is surely going to divide Warriors fans. Right now, the team’s ownership is shockingly aggressive about wanting fans back in the stands. While they were forced to walk back their original plan that aspired to put 9,000 fans a game in the Chase Center, it’s clear owner Joe Lacob wants this envelope pushed. He’s willing to burn a ton of money on COVID-19 testing, but that’s no sure-fire way to prevent outbreaks. And do recall that before shelter-in-place, the Warriors were in a nasty fight with the city over allowing fans at games in the virus’ early days.
So this Warriors team may not be the most newsworthy in the NBA this year, though do expect a steady diet of Steph making miracle shots. It’s the team's combative desire to be the first with large crowds back that will probably make the most headlines, for better or worse.
Image: SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 15: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after making a three-point basket against the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter at Golden 1 Center on December 15, 2020 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)