Warriors' easiest stretches of 2019-20 season key to making playoffs

Warriors' easiest stretches of 2019-20 season key to making playoffs

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The NBA schedule has been officially released, and now the start of the season is in sight. With about two and a half months left before the first regular-season game in Chase Center history, Warriors officials can now prepare itineraries and accommodations for the 2019-20 season that will span from late October through mid-April.

It is too early for players or coaches to circle games and begin strategizing against their opponents, considering they haven't even seen their own team practice or play yet. However, earlier this week we examined some key difficult stretches of games in the upcoming season that could very well dictate the fate of the Warriors. So how can the Warriors make up for any losses incurred during those rough patches of the season?

Here are most winnable stretches of the season in chronological order:

Nov. 27- Dec. 11 (Eight games)
- vs CHI, @ MIA, @ ORL, @ ATL, @ CHA, @ CHI, vs MEM, vs NYK
- One back-to-back (@ ORL, @ ATL)

Very rarely would a stretch of games that includes a five-game east coast road trip be considered very "winnable," but the opponents the Warriors will face over eight consecutive games are nowhere near the upper echelon of teams. When all is said and done, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis and New York may all be drafting high in the lottery following the season.

Playing at Miami and Orlando has the potential to be surprisingly difficult, but if the Warriors cannot win at least five of these eight games, then their season will prove to be quite difficult. 

Dec. 20 - Dec. 28 (Five games)
- vs NO, vs MIN, vs HOU, vs PHX, vs DAL
- One back-to-back (vs PHX, vs DAL)

A five-game homestand after much early-season travel should be a very welcome sight for the Warriors. How easy it will be to come away with at least three wins will depend on how good teams such as New Orleans and Dallas prove to be. They are ripe with skilled youngsters, but just how complete they are is still yet to be seen.

Minnesota and Phoenix will probably creep up on some teams and pull off unexpected wins, but they are both fully expected to be picking in the lottery next summer. Houston is the one team that stands out above the rest, but a lively Chase Center crowd might be able to will the Warriors past their rivals. 

[RELATED: Warriors' must-see games in 2019-20 season]

March 20- March 28 (Four games)
- @ DET, @ NYK, vs ATL, vs OKC
- One back-to-back (@ DET, @ NYK)

What could make this mini-stretch difficult is that they will travel to Detroit and New York at the tail end of a very difficult string of road games, and then have to compete against a mediocre Pistons team and a porous Knicks squad on a back-to-back. But with Klay Thompson most likely back in the fold, the team should feel confident playing lesser opponents despite the possible exhaustion.

The Warriors would then come home and play the Hawks and the Thunder, who at this point of the season, most likely will have traded away some of the better players on their team.

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Warriors follow Draymond Green's lead in willing team to win vs. Bulls

Throughout his career, Draymond Green simultaneously has been Golden State's emotional leader and one of its best players. 

On teams featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, Green consistently was the team's emotional heartbeat, occasionally willing his squads to unforeseen victories in standout performances that didn't necessarily reflect on the stat sheet. 

The latest example of Green's impact came in the last 12 minutes of Friday's 100-98 win over the Bulls, when he passed, defended and guided the Warriors to their fifth win of the season. 

A glimpse of Green's impact came four seconds before the final frame began when Golden State coach Steve Kerr substituted Green for Jordan Poole. On the next play, Green switched onto Bulls guard Coby White, forcing an off-balance miss. Four minutes into the fourth quarter -- with Golden State down 89-84 -- he successfully contested a Tomas Satoransky jump shot, leading to a fastbreak opportunity. Four minutes later, Green received a pass from guard D'Angelo Russell, drove the lane and found center Willie Cauley Stein for a dunk. With a minute left and the game tied at 98, he found Glenn Robinson III for another lob dunk to help seal the victory. 

Green -- who finished with nine points, five rebounds and four steals -- was responsible for 10 of the team's 23 fourth-quarter points, helping the Warriors outscore Chicago by eight points in the final frame. 

"Our defensive pressure picked up," Green explained after the win. "I think down the stretch in games, you have to do that. There have been games this year where teams have put pressure on us and we didn't respond well. I think tonight we were the aggressors and it worked out in our favor."

"He made great plays down the stretch," Robinson said of Green. "He got down on the floor for loose balls. He got us going, his talk, his communication. You always want a player like that the floor, directing things."

Green's performance came at a particular time of peril for Golden State. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out of the lineup, the Warriors are one of the league's worst teams. In their last four games entering Friday night, they had been outscored by 61 points, including a 106-91 blowout loss to Charlotte on Wednesday. 

[RELATED: Sources: Steph has surgery to remove pins from hand]

Worse, Green's play has followed suit. Over his previous nine appearances, he had shot just 38.5 percent from the field while dealing with a myriad of injuries. On Friday, both he and his team found their stride. 

"We played the whole game hard," Warriors forward Eric Paschall said. "I felt like as a team, that's a big step for us after the last two games. We felt like we didn't compete at a high level. I felt like it was real good for us just in terms of coming out with a win."

Golden State's season has been new territory for Green. Since entering the NBA, he has never missed the playoffs, but with the Warriors' star-studded cast out for an extended time, that streak is expected to end. That makes Friday's act of leadership all the more important going forward. 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in inspiring 100-98 win over Bulls


Too bad the Warriors can't play the Bulls every night. 

In their latest outing, the Warriors beat Chicago 100-98, sweeping the season series against Chicago while avoiding a winless five-game road trip. 

After Warriors coach Steve Kerr lamented his team's uninspired play, Golden State put together its best effort in nearly a week. 

The Warriors aren't going to beat most teams on talent like recent years. In order to have a chance on a nightly basis, they'll have to play as hard as they did Friday night at United Center. 

Here are the takeaways:

All heart

In the days leading up Chicago, Kerr was critical of his team's hustle and spirit. Against the Bulls, the Warriors got the hint, highlighted by a 16-5 run to start the second quarter. Golden State shot 57 percent from the field in the frame, helping the team get within one point at halftime. 

Similar efforts were littered throughout the game. When the Bulls went up seven, the Warriors went on a 14-5 run to take a brief lead. Eric Paschall continued his stellar rookie season, scoring 13 points, adding three rebounds and two assists. 

As they grow, the Warriors will continue to learn lessons during their transition. The one constant will have to be the effort they showed Friday. 

Too many miscues

Golden State's response to Kerr's demand would've been smoother with better control of the basketball. The Warriors committed 11 of their game-high 19 turnovers in the first half. 

Entering Friday, Chicago was among the stingiest teams in the league, forcing 18 turnovers per game.

Turnovers are a function of undisciplined play. The Warriors' youth was on display, and they were fortunate to get the win.

[RELATED: Ask Kerith: Why Warriors' focus is on player development]

Robinson drilling III's

In a game the Warriors needed an extra scoring punch, they got it from Robinson, who scored 20 points, including two 3-pointers. After struggling at the beginning of the season, Robinson has come alive in recent games. 

Over his last eight outings, he's averaging 13.6 points while shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range. 

If Robinson can keep this up, he will force his way into Golden State's future plans.