The NBA released its full schedule for the upcoming 2018/19 season Friday as all the key matchups were revealed for the Golden State Warriors.
Although they finished as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season, behind the red-hot Houston Rockets, in the end, their position and lack of home-court advantage didn’t really matter. They would come back from 3-2 to defeat the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals before sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers and winning their third championship in four years.
Despite LeBron James moving to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors are still favorites this year and even added DeMarcus Cousins to their ranks as they somehow got even stronger as a side.
And so, here’s a look at all the key matchups in the 2018/19 regular season as the Warriors look to become the first team since the Lakers to complete a three-peat.
The defending champions will kick off their season at the Oracle Arena in a marquee matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where there is certainly no love lost between Kevin Durant and his old side after his move in 2016.
The Thunder disappointed last year and eventually crashed out in the first round of the playoffs, but with Paul George being re-signed and his partnership with Russell Westbrook entering its second season, OKC could be more than a threat this year.
The Warriors will return to the Toyota Center for the first time since their Game 7 win over the Rockets during the playoffs.
In that game, Steve Kerr’s men notably had a poor first half performance as they were 54-43 down after two quarters. However, the Warriors showed why they were champions as they bounced back in the second half with Stephen Curry scoring 14 of his 27 points in the third quarter.
The Rockets meanwhile, shockingly missed all 14 of their shots beyond the arc in the third quarter, part of a sorry run of 27 consecutive three-point misses during the game as they eventually lost 101-92. They will undoubtedly want to get revenge and hope they go one better this year in the playoffs.
The Warriors will face the new LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers for the first time on Christmas Day. This was known already though, as the Warriors will host a James side for the fourth straight year on the occasion.
There will be stakes this time though, as the 33-year-old is in the Western Conference for the first time, and fans will get a glimpse as to whether this new-look Lakers side can actually challenge the champions.
The rematch between the Warriors and the Lakers will take place on Martin Luther King Day, which was also known. However, both teams will have gotten a better feel for each other and this time, it will be taking place at the Staples Center.
What’s also notable is that Cousins, who has been injured since January last year, could be back in action by that timeframe as the Bay Area side could field a starting lineup consisting solely of All-Stars.
The Warriors will then face the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in what could be a preview of the 2019 NBA Finals.
The Celtics were just one win away from defeating the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but with James in the West now, they are favorites in the East.
And boasting one of the most talented rosters in the league with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward expected back, many feel they could challenge the defending champions for a first championship since 2008.
The Warriors will travel to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans in what will be a big occasion for Cousins. The All-Star center could face his old team after becoming a free agent in the summer where he claimed because of his lack of offers due to injury, he had no choice but to approach the Warriors.
It will be interesting to see how the fans react to him, especially as former teammate Anthony Davis is at peace with the decision.