After cooling off last season, the NBA’s love affair with the Warriors sizzles again next season, as they are scheduled for 29 national television appearances, with 12 coming in their first 29 games.
Though no fewer than 20 games will have considerable international interest, we narrowed to five the list of games with intense interest, for a variety of reasons. Here are five must-see games on the Golden State schedule:
Dec. 25, 2021 at Phoenix
Last season was the first in 10 years that the Warriors missed the playoffs with a mostly healthy Steph Curry. It also was the first in 11 years that the Suns made the playoffs, and the first in 45 that they reached the NBA Finals.
If that isn’t enough to pique interest, there is the longtime rivalry between Chris Paul and Curry. And the intriguing matchup of young centers James Wiseman and Deandre Ayton. And also, there is the question, for the Warriors, of who will be assigned to defend Devin Booker.
Gotcha now? Add to this that this is the kind of marquee game that would make for a dramatic season debut for Klay Thompson. But the timing is sublime.
Jan. 29, 2022 vs. Brooklyn
A lot has happened since Kevin Durant last played before a full arena in the Bay Area. He has since left for the Nets, recovered nicely from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and publicly expressed displeasure with decisions made by Steve Kerr and Bob Myers in his third and final season with the Warriors.
Chase Center should be rocking for this Saturday night special on ABC. The base of Dub Nation is the Bay Area, and local fans have not gotten an opportunity to express their appreciation for KD’s excellence as a Warrior.
Will his return be tainted by the comments regarding Kerr and Myers? Or will the good times be at the forefront among the fan base?
Feb. 12, 2022 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Hello, LeBron. Not nice to see you again. And we see you’re bringing, wait a minute ... Russell Westbrook with you?
It’s popcorn time in the Bay, where both James and Westbrook are high atop fans’ list of NBA enemies. With LeBron, it goes back to his days in Cleveland and the four consecutive wars in the NBA Finals. With Westbrook, it goes back to his Thunder days, when he directed low-key shade toward Curry.
The Warriors and their fans surely remember how last season ended, with a loss to LeBron and the Lakers in the final play-in game. It’s revamped crew in LA, as James and Westbrook will be joined by ... Carmelo Anthony. Yet another Saturday night special for ABC.
March 12, 2022 vs. Milwaukee
There was a time when the Warriors and their fans proposed an array of financial gymnastics in the hope that it would lead to Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was their heart’s desire, and whoever was second was not close.
Giannis, however, chose to stay with the Bucks, the franchise that drafted him as a skinny teenager with a broken jump shot but white-hot ambition. The jumper still needs repair, but Giannis has developed so well that his next visit to the Bay Area will be as an NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP.
A visit from the reigning champs always raises the temperature. Facing the Bucks this deep into the season ought to provide a decent opportunity for the Warriors to measure themselves. Yes, please.
April 7, 2022 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
If 2021-22 is anything like 2020-21, the last two weeks of the regular season will be a competitive riot, with a dozen or so teams swinging crowbars and throwing swords in pursuit of playoff positioning.
Sure, it’s Team LeBron. Again. But the stakes will be higher than in February, as both teams conceivably will be among the top four in the Western Conference.
It’s Game No. 80. The Warriors by then will have a very good idea of what they can expect from Klay in the postseason. His effectiveness is crucial. Barring setbacks, he will have had two or three months to reach peak condition, test his defense and find his rhythm.
This could be a preview of a Warriors-Lakers postseason battle the likes of which we’ve never known.