When it comes to assessing the Warriors chances for successin 2012-13, you get an array of opinions from their fans.Some believe this Warriors roster is as complete as anysince the 2007-08 season, when they went 48-34. Those fans are thinkingplayoffs, not surprisingly.The more pessimistic fans are skeptical that the team canremain healthy for an entire season, and that even if they do its going to betough to make the playoffs.But the one thing everyone can likely agree on is that therecipe for Warriors success seems clear: Theyve got to hang in early and thenmake a surge late.In other words, dont look for the Warriors to start quicklyand be firmly embedded in the playoff mix from the get-go and then try tohold off the competition.The 2012-13 Warriors schedule lends itself to the teamwinning more games late in the season than early. In short, their schedule isvery unfriendly early, then gets more kind late.NEWS: Warriors open season in Phoenix on HalloweenThe Warriors open with 15 of their first 24 games on theroad. Of the nine home games they play during that stretch, six will comeagainst playoff teams from a year ago.The Warriors complete that early stretch with a seven-gameroad trip to Detroit, Brooklyn, Washington, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando andAtlanta. Yes, there a few winnable games on that trip, but keep in mind theWarriors were just 11-22 on the road a season ago. Their record away fromOracle Arena the past four seasons is 37-119 (.237).The Warriors, who went 23-43 last season, expect to be abetter team overall in 2012-13, and certainly a better road team. But thereality is that the core of the team will be playing together for the firsttime come the start of the season, and that doesnt lend itself to a quickstart when the majority of games are away from Oracle.The good news comes in March and April, when the Warriorswill have an opportunity to do some major damage. Sixteen of the teams final22 are at home, including two separate homestands of seven and five games,respectively.The seven-gamer in March is littered with winnable games Toronto, Sacramento, Houston, Milwaukee, New York, Detroit and Chicago andthe five-gamer isnt exactly a bear, either: Washington, L.A. Lakers,Sacramento, Portland and New Orleans.The Warriors schedule sets the team up for plenty of winslate in the season. But for those wins to matter, the Warriors are going tohave stay afloat early.
When it rains, it pours for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
After starting the season 24-9, they have cratered. Including two losses to the Warriors and one to the Kings, the Cavs are 3-8 over their last 11 games.
During the stretch, they suffered through a four-game losing streak and nearly blew a 23-point lead against the Magic on Thursday.
But nothing was worse than what happened in front of a national TV audience on Saturday. The visiting Oklahoma City Thunder strolled into Quicken Loans Arena and hung 148 points on the defending Eastern Conference champs and won by 24 points.
Saturday's performance was so bad, former Cavs head coach David Blatt took a shot at them before coaching the Team Europe in the Turkish Basketball Super League All-Star Game in Instabul.
Asked by a sideline reporter for his thoughts on the game he was about to coach, Blatt offered this:
"Well, I don't think we're going to have any problem scoring. I'm just wondering if we're going to defend anybody. That's what I'm worried about," Blatt said.
The reporter followed up by asking for his expectation of the final score. That's when Blatt threw a haymaker at the team that fired him during the 2015-16 season despite a 30-11 record.
"Well, I hope we don't give up as many points as the Cavaliers did last night," Blatt said.
Unfortunately for Blatt, Team Europe lost 151-142 to Team Asia.
The Rockets are riding high after their 116-108 win over the Warriors on Saturday night.
Maybe a little too high.
After the game, starting center Clint Capela had some bold things to say about the rivalry.
"We're confident because we know if we're doing what we're supposed to do, we're going to beat them. We've got to keep playing. We know that they're going to come back if we have the lead, and we've just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we're doing what we're supposed to do on defense -- all the switches, the weak side -- and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them. We are better than them," Capela told ESPN after the game in Houston.
The young big man doubled down.
"We're definitely the best in the league with everybody healthy. We've definitely got a chance to get that 1-seed back. The thing is, of course, we're excited because it's the Warriors, but Monday is an important game, too. If we lose and the [Warriors] win their game, what was the point? The next game, every single time, is going to be the key to go get the No. 1, first seed," Capela told ESPN.
Guard Eric Gordon didn't go as far, but still compared the Rockets favorably to the Warriors.
"Offensively, we're just as good as them, no question. Defensively, they're a championship team. They're consistent, whether they win or lose. Us, we still have peaks and valleys. We just can't have those. That's why we've got to play well the next game, because we just have to sustain the same effort," Gordon said via ESPN.
The Rockets won the season-series with the Warriors by taking two out of the three meetings. They now trail the Warriors by 3.5 games in the race for the top spot in the Western Conference.
But are they really better than the defending NBA champs? Are the Warriors worried at all about the Rockets?
"The season starts over when you're in the playoffs anyway, so it doesn't matter. You're going to have to get through these teams to get to where you want to go. You have to play at home and on the road, so it really doesn't matter. We just want to be playing good basketball when it comes down to that point," Warriors forward Kevin Durant told ESPN after the game.
Draymond Green really didn't want to hear about home-court advantage.
"It's game 40-what? Seven, eight? Who we play on Tuesday? We just got to get ready for [New York]. Home court will take care of itself down the road," told reporters after the game.
With no more meetings during the regular season, the next time the two teams could meet, assuming they finish with the top two seeds, is in the Western Conference Finals. So we'll have to wait until May to see if the Rockets can back up the tough talk.