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Warriors open season against the powerhouse...Clippers?

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The NBA landscape has changed, Golden State is no longer the team so stacked that everyone complains about them. Instead, they’ll start the season by playing on the other side of the coin.

2019 NBA Finals - Toronto Raptors v Golden State Warriors

After dominating the league for most of the past decade, the Golden State Warriors enter the 2019-2020 season looking uphill at the super elite teams. Unfortunately, the opening stanza of this campaign brings the Warriors up against the newly buffed Los Angeles Clippers and their new superstar, Kawhi Leonard.

It’s going to be a tough first game at the newly opened Chase Center in San Francisco, in what figures to be a long and challenging season. Despite coming fairly close, the Warriors are no longer the defending champions, nor are they presumptive favorite to win it all this year. Those honorifics belong to Kawhi Leonard, and the Clippers, respectively.

Game Details

WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers

WHERE: Chase Center — San Francisco, CA

WHEN: Thursday, October 24th; 7:30 pm

WATCH: TNT

Blog Buddy: Clips Nation

Three things to watch for Golden State

  1. The holes at the wing

When looking at the Warriors’ roster as it developed over the offseason, the wing positions were an immediate concern, and Golden State was unable to do much of anything to fix that during the preseason.

Just to recap quickly, the Warriors are starting the season without Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant is gone. Those two were #1 and #2 in total minutes played last season. Not only did the team lose a bunch of top end talent, but the entire wing rotation is essentially gone as Andre Iguodala, Quinn Cook, and Shaun Livingston were also heavy-minute rotation players. In their place, we’ve got a bevvy of replacement-level players, some rookies, and a whole lot of delusional hope — something Warriors fans of old are quite familiar with.

In the Clippers, the Warriors are playing the team most suited to take advantage of these roster changes. Given the dearth of viable wing options, it’s likely that the team will try out some of our best defenders instead. But if we pull Draymond Green and Kevon Looney out to cover the wings, it leaves other holes that opponents could feast on.

Curry and Russell carrying the offensive burden

Out of the ashes, Warriors fans like me found a phoenix-like hope rising back up in the form of established superstar Stephen Curry. The man who famously said “we will figure this out” and then proceeded to do exactly that, shoulder-shaking and three point bombing his way into the history books.

But now the question will be if he can maintain that dominance. Or even better: rediscover the rambunctious proclivity for buckets that he set aside to facilitate the broader offensive schemes of coach Steve Kerr.

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Playing alongside him is newcomer, D’Angelo Russell — the sort of 24 year-old All Star that Warriors fans of a mere decade ago would have killed for. We know that these guys can score efficiently and in bulk — but can they maintain that output, play defense, and cover for each other when one or the other is resting?

Defense? Do you play it?

In the preseason, the Warriors were either dead last, or close to it in most of the meaningful defensive categories. We have what the house hunters on TV would call “good bones.” With Draymond Green serving as the defensive general and heady defender Kevon Looney suddenly filling the role of stalwart veteran presence, the team is not without the tools prerequisite for success.

But it’s going to take work, and it is not going to happen immediately. Thankfully, we are in good hands in this regard.

As I wrote this, some of the GSOM writers were discussing Glenn Robinson III. He’s athletic, and may be one of the best options when we are looking for another defender. Recall, if you will, that one of the preeminent traits that Kerr loved most about Livingston and Iguodala was their ability to cover multiple positions. Someone is going to step into that role this season, it could be Robinson or even Alec Burks.

Whatever the case, this is the sort of deep-seeded issue that will require buy-in from the whole roster.

Prediction

I think the Warriors are going to get absolutely demolished tonight. The Clippers are exactly the sort of juggernaut that Golden State used to be; and the Warriors are now looking like the sort of also-ran that the Clippers used to be. The sort of team that would get decimated in front of their home crowd to open an exciting season.

Once Golden State gets Klay Thompson back, and the roster has time to gel, it may well be a different story; but I think Chase Center will begin its NBA career with a loss — which is actually pretty fitting for a Golden State franchise that has known so many struggles before finding eventual success.