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What a difference a year makes

A year after opening the season rather pathetically, the Warriors kicked things off emphatically.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors opened up the 2021-22 NBA season on Tuesday night, and I’m going to do something unconventional in my attempt to depict what happened. Rather than writing my own new words, I’m going to pull from three articles published on this site in the last 10 months.

Let’s first go back to Dec. 22, 2020. The Warriors have just opened the season against the Brooklyn Nets, the prohibitive Eastern Conference favorites. They’ve lost 125-99.

Here’s Jas Kang:

The Golden State Warriors looked like a team playing its first regular season game in nine months in their 125-99 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

It wasn’t pretty from the start. The Dubs held an early 4-2 lead but trailed for the game’s final 47 minutes. Brooklyn was up 40-25 after the first quarter and never looked back the rest of the way

. . .

There’s no need to hit the panic button, but if this continues past the 10-game mark, the concerns will only grow. The Warriors need a ton of work if they want to keep pace in a loaded Western Conference, but time won’t be on their side with the condensed schedule.

Now we fast forward, through the Warriors up-and-down season, past the playoffs and the 2021 NBA Draft, and through most of the offseason.

We arrive at Aug. 21, with the Warriors schedule having just been released.

Here’s what I had to say:

Remember last year, when we had exciting hopes for the Warriors, and they kicked off the season against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, widely regarded as the two best teams in the East?

Those were barometer games. We’d get to see just how good the Warriors were.

Turns out not very good. While the Warriors would recover and play quality basketball by the end of the season, they lost those first two games by a combined 65 points, and it would be months before the sour taste of harsh reality was out of their mouths.

The Dubs kick things off with another set of barometer games this year. On Opening Night, they travel to SoCal to take on the LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Lakers, seen by most as favorites in the Western Conference.

Finally we jump to the morning of Oct. 20, less than 12 hours after the dust has settled on the season opener. The Warriors are 1-0 for the first time in a few years after besting the Los Angeles Lakers, prohibitive favorites in the Western Conference.

Here’s Sean Keane:

What if I told you that Lakers LeBron James and Anthony Davis would combine for 67 points in the season opener against the Warriors? And that LeBron would make as many threes (5) as Steph Curry would make shots? And that because of foul trouble to Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee would play 29 minutes? Oh, and Curry and Draymond Green would combine for nine turnovers? You’d probably think, sounds like a Warriors win.

That’s exactly what happened in the season opener, as the new-look Golden State Warriors triumphed over the even-newer-look Los Angeles Lakers, 121-114 at the Staples Center.

Now that’s a lovely progression of sentiments.

I’m not advocating for overreacting to one game, especially against a Lakers team that, for all its talent, is probably still a few months away from clicking and finding rhythm.

But the difference between the two seasons is stark, and not just because Draymond Green was absent a year ago, and present for this game. And not just because Avery Bradley, waived by the Dubs on Friday, was playing against them in crunch time for a team that’s supposed to be comfortably better, though ... that kind of tells us something, doesn’t it?

We won’t know for quite a while if the Warriors are contenders. But it only took one game for them to assure us that this season will be much different — and much better — than last year’s.