Warriors Schedule Close-up: Can't-miss Game, Toughest Road Trip and More

Upon receiving the NBA schedule Friday, the Warriors surely noted back-to-back sets (13), the longest road trip and homestands (11 days each) and even total mileage (50,430). Not much to complain about, aside from ending the season with a road back-to-back.

We took a deeper and more subjective examination of the Warriors' 2018-19 schedule and this is what we found:


After three years of storylines related to Warriors-Cavaliers and two to the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook "conflict" within Warriors-Thunder, the game most worthy of attention is Warriors-Lakers on Christmas Day. Two huge fan bases, the LeBron James Factor (reviving L.A. pride) and such curious figures as Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and ex-Warrior JaVale McGee. This will indicate whether the Lakers are gold, or merely fool's gold.

[RELATED: Warriors announce full 2018-19 regular season schedule]


The Warriors will venture into Boston's TD Garden on Jan. 26 to face the expected Eastern Conference champion Celtics. The Warriors under Steve Kerr are 5-3 against Boston, including a four-point road loss last season. If the vaunted Warriors offense is stifled, chatter will rage for at least 38 days -- until the March 5 rematch in Oakland.


The playoff races heat up in March, and the Warriors open the month at Philadelphia on March 2. Three reasons for intrigue: 1) The 76ers are very talented; 2) They have irrepressibly loquacious Joel Embiid; and 3) after years when the Warriors took over the building in Philly, this might be the game where everything changes.


Not since 2011 have the Warriors tackled the Texas Triangle. It's back. Three games in four nights: at Houston on Thursday, Nov. 15; at Dallas on Saturday, Nov. 17; and at San Antonio on Sunday, Nov. 18. The upsides are that it's the first month of the season, and the toughest game -- against the Rockets -- comes first.


It's the longest trek of the season, with two games on the West Coast, two in the East and one in the Midwest. It starts in Los Angeles, where the Warriors will engage the Clippers (Friday, Jan. 18) and the Lakers (Jan. 21, MLK Day), and then moves to Washington (Jan. 24) and Boston (Jan. 26) and, finally, Indiana (Jan 28). Though six non-game days seems plenty sufficient, the arrangement doesn't suggest rest.


How about four playoff-caliber opponents, over seven days, beginning in south Texas with Houston on Wednesday, March 13? Then, it's off to Oklahoma City on Saturday, back to south Texas at San Antonio on Monday, immediately followed by a 1,200-mile journey north, to Minnesota for Part II of a back-to-back on Tuesday. Anything better than a 2-2 record must be considered exceptional.

[RELATED: 10 must-see Warriors games next season]


There will be a number of nights when Warriors coach Steve Kerr rests one or more players. He'll have to be careful on national TV games. Game No. 21 -- on Saturday, Nov. 24 against the Kings -- will be the third in four nights, after Oklahoma City and Portland at Oracle Arena.


The dog days of January bring only one back-to-back set. Naturally, it involves the Nuggets in Denver, where lungs lock up. That's on Tuesday, Jan. 15, followed by a home game against the go-go Pelicans. Pick a night. Any player in his right mind will sit in Denver.


It's Game No. 82, on Wednesday, April 10 at Memphis. It comes less than 24 hours after the Warriors deal with the Pelicans in New Orleans. Assuming nothing is at stake in the standings, it would seem wise to turn this one over to the bench.


That would be the weekend of Jan 18-21. The defending champs play the Clippers on Friday at Staples Center. There is no game Saturday or Sunday, inviting the Warriors to indulge in the temptations of Hollywood before meeting the Lakers on Monday. Also: The Warriors tend to snooze through at least one game every season in L.A.

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