This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The Golden State Warriors are currently on a seven-game road trip, and they will be away from Oracle Arena for about two weeks. This road trip is a significant part of the Warriors’ schedule. The elite teams in the NBA are great on the road, so the Warriors need to do well on this road trip in order to establish themselves as an elite team in the Western Conference.
This long road trip is especially significant, because it’s a great opportunity for the Warriors to gain some ground, in terms of their record, against the less competitive Eastern Conference teams. Besides the Miami Heat, the Warriors play six teams that they should hypothetically beat.
They already beat the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orland Magic, but they should be able to beat the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets. Since it’s a long road trip, the Warriors might not easily handle all of these teams though. If the Warriors can go 4-3 or 5-2 on this road trip, that will be a successful road trip.
The Warriors need to take it a game at a time and not underestimate any of these teams. If they play down to their opponent or assume that these games will be easy wins, this road trip could really end up hurting their record.
“None of these games are going to be easy,” Mark Jackson said. “We’re playing against teams in their own building, but we’ve got to take care of our business. I think it’s important for us to be true to our identity and things will fall into place.”
Last season, the Warriors had a similar seven-game road trip near the beginning of the season. They played the Detroit Pistons, the Nets, the Wizards, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Heat, the Magic, and the Hawks. They went 6-1 on this monumental road trip, with their only loss coming against the Magic.
Their miraculous 97-95 win over the Heat on that road trip was arguably the most significant win during the regular season. It was a statement win that showed the rest of the NBA that they weren’t the same dysfunctional team that they had been for so long. The Warriors showed that they were a legitimate playoff contender and that they had become a defensive-minded team.
The Warriors will face the Heat on this current road trip as well, and they hope to re-create the magic that they created on last season’s seven-game road trip. If the Warriors were able to beat the Heat on this road trip, it would be a different kind of statement win than last year’s win.
If the Warriors beat the Heat, it will show that they are a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. They don’t have to prove that they’re a playoff contender anymore. They need to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that they’re even stronger this season. The Warriors would prove that they’re here to stay and here to contend.
The game against the Heat is the ultimate test for the Warriors, but, as mentioned before, they have to take the other games seriously as well. Here are three possible trap games for the Warriors on this road trip.
They need to look out for the Hawks, because they currently rank third in the Eastern Conference with a 17-14 record. They can’t overlook the talent that Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Kyle Korver, and Paul Millsap have. This is also the second game of a back-to-back, with the first game coming against the Heat.
The Wizards could also be a tougher matchup than most people would think. The Wizards have a fantastic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall is an extremely talented point guard who can score and set up his teammates, and Beal is averaging 18.7 points per game and is shooting 46.2 percent from three. Trevor Ariza is also having a fantastic season.
One last possible “trap” game on this road trip is the game against the Nets. After making a blockbuster trade in the offseason for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Nets have had an extremely disappointing season and are currently 10-20. This is a potential trap game because it’s the second game of a back-to-back, on the road, at the end of a long road trip. The Warriors will most likely be tired and ready to go home, so they can’t overlook this team.
The Warriors need to think of this road trip as a business trip. They need to stay focused and take the road trip game by game. This road trip could really define their season, and it’s a great chance for the Warriors to prove themselves.
Prediction for the road trip: 6-1, with the one loss coming against the Hawks, not the Heat.