Opening night finally is here, as Steve Kerr and the Warriors embark on their most challenging season of his coaching career.
For the first regular-season game in Chase Center's history, the Warriors will have to face arguably the toughest opponent in the Western Conference, the rebuilt Los Angeles Clippers. Even without star Paul George, the Clippers won an intense matchup with the comparable Lakers on Tuesday night, looking as deep and dangerous as expected.
The Warriors will have their hands full Thursday night, so here are some key matchups to focus on.
Steph Curry vs. Patrick Beverley
The ultimate defensive pest in the NBA will match up against Curry. But despite Beverley's aggressive and annoying antics, the Clippers guard has not fared well against Curry.
Over the last few seasons, Curry has torched Beverley in their showdowns. That is not to say that Beverley hasn't gotten under Curry's skin on multiple occasions, but Steph has channeled his frustration into offensive domination.
Last postseason, Clippers coach Doc Rivers decided to match Beverley against Kevin Durant instead. If Rivers should decide to use Landry Shamet against Curry, Beverley could end up on D'Angelo Russell.
Though many players, and fans, do not like Beverley's basketball persona, he is a very skilled player who inspires his team. You can expect Beverley to be full force tonight facing the team that has eliminated his squads from the postseason multiple times.
Glenn Robinson III vs. Kawhi Leonard
The biggest mismatch on the court will be at the wing position, and unfortunately for the Warriors, it might be that way in most games. Robinson is a serviceable player that can defend and hit an open 3-pointer, but facing the 2019 NBA Finals MVP is going to be quite the challenge.
Kawhi got off to a sensational start Tuesday night, lighting up very capable defenders on the Lakers.
In season's past, either Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala or Durant would draw the assignment against Leonard, but without them, the duties most likely will fall on Robinson, followed most likely by rookie Eric Paschall.
Forming defensive chemistry is sometimes overlooked in comparison to offensive chemistry, but the Warriors will need to try their best to be up-to-speed on rotations and help situations with Kawhi.
In the end, it will probably be a long night for the Warriors against the Clippers star.
Draymond Green vs. Montrezl Harrell
With the Warriors defense possibly in disarray to start the season, Green will be relied upon to steady the ship.
Unfortunately for Green, at the same time his hands will be full guarding the high-energy, ultra-competitive Harrell. While Harrell likely will come off the bench, he plays starters minutes for the Clippers, seeing the court for 38 minutes Tuesday night compared to just 17 minutes for actual starter Patrick Patterson.
Defensive rebounding was a nightmare for the Warriors in the preseason, so keeping Harrell off the offensive boards will be a key point of focus.
When Draymond is not on the court, Marquese Chriss could be tasked with guarding Harrell. Chriss is taller and longer than Harrell, but he will have to match his intensity and ferocity under the rim to succeed.
The Warriors have the overall edge in the Green-Harrell match up, but how Harrell plays against the second unit might determine a lot in the end.
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Jordan Poole/Jacob Evans III vs. Lou Williams
Williams is a dynamic scorer that knows how to draw fouls against even the best defenders in the league. Like Harrell, he comes off the bench for the team but plays a majority of the game.
While Russell might be tasked with guarding Williams for periods of the game, how "Sweet Lou" matches up against second-unit guards like Poole and Evans will be impactful on the final score.
It will be a tough assignment for Poole, who is known for his gunslinger offensive game rather than his defense. Williams isn't known for his defense, so perhaps the Warriors would best be served trying to exhaust Williams on that end of the floor by constantly moving Poole and running him off screens.
On the flip side, Evans is supposed to be a much more capable defender. Using his length, Evans will need to stay disciplined on defense, not reaching or biting on Williams' pump fakes. Completely stopping Williams probably is not an option, but if the Warriors are going to have a chance in the opener at Chase Center, they will have to make sure he doesn't take over the game for stretches as he has done many times in the past.