GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Friday, Oct. 20 (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
Why it’s on the list
Stephen Curry. Kevin Durant. Klay Thompson. Draymond Green. Anthony Davis. DeMarcus Cousins. When the Warriors and Pelicans square off in the second game of the regular season for both teams, half of the 2017 Western Conference All-Star squad will be in uniform (that loaded roster also featured MVP winner Russell Westbrook, along with MVP candidates James Harden and Kawhi Leonard). In other words, it’s difficult to find a game anywhere in the league that provides more star power than Golden State-New Orleans. It’s also a fascinating contrast in styles, between a Golden State team that popularized and perfected the usage of small lineups vs. a New Orleans supersized frontcourt. The pairing of Davis and Cousins goes against the grain of what the rest of the NBA is doing, with two 6-foot-11 dominant scorers and rebounders patrolling the paint (and beyond). In four head-to-head meetings last season, Golden State outrebounded New Orleans by 4.5 boards per game, but Cousins didn’t play in any of them.
Where it falls on the New Orleans schedule
Week 1 for the Pelicans consists of two games against perennial playoff teams, starting with an Oct. 18 game at Memphis (seven straight postseason berths). The opening week (based on the NBA’s new Monday-to-Sunday setup) will conclude Sunday, Oct. 22 at the Lakers, with the home game against Golden State sandwiched in between. This is the third consecutive year in which New Orleans was scheduled to face Golden State during the first four days of the regular season.
What’s new in Golden State
Normally when a team experiences the Warriors’ level of recent success (two NBA championships, three Western Conference crowns since 2015), roster attrition becomes an issue, because it’s often impossible to retain free agents at rising costs. That wasn’t the case for Golden State this summer, however, as it managed to bring back key reserves Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, while re-signing recent league MVP winners Curry and Durant. If that wasn’t enough, the Warriors improved their already-lethal stable of perimeter shooters, signing Nick Young and Omri Casspi. On paper, a team that has averaged an absurd 69 wins over the past three regular seasons somehow got even better.
Other 2017-18 games between these two teams
Saturday, Nov. 25, New Orleans at Golden State
Monday, Dec. 4, Golden State at New Orleans
Saturday, April 7, New Orleans at Golden State