The best regular-season team in NBA history got even better this past offseason, and it’s finally time to see if they can live up to the hype in 2016-17. The Golden State Warriors host the San Antonio Spurs in their season opener on Tuesday night as Kevin Durant makes his debut with the defending Western Conference champions.
Golden State begins the year with maybe the highest expectations of any team in league history. Led by back-to-back MVP Stephen Curry, the Warriors won a record-setting 73 games in the 2015-16 season. After blowing a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State signed Kevin Durant, who was the last player other than Curry to win the MVP award.
The Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win the championship, and it would be an utter shock if they don’t make a third straight trip to the NBA Finals. But they could get off to a slow start after adding an elite scorer to an already cohesive unit. The Miami Heat, for instance, won the Eastern Conference in the first year that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up, but the “Big 3” had trouble early with an 8-7 start, including a loss in their opener.
San Antonio could certainly give Golden State trouble after winning 67 games a year ago. But the Warriors are heavy favorites at home, giving the visiting Spurs 8.5 points at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks, via OddsShark. The over/under is 212 points.
It might be hard to read too much into the preseason, but all indications are that Golden State isn’t having a whole lot of trouble welcoming Durant into the fold. After losing their first exhibition game of the season, the Warriors went undefeated with six straight wins. Durant averaged 20.9 points in just 25.1 minutes per game, and it could be a sign that the Warriors will cruise past most of their competition, starting with San Antonio.
The Spurs bring back MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, but it’ll be the first time in nearly two decades that the team starts the season without Tim Duncan. He’ll be replaced by Pau Gasol, who signed a two-year contract worth more than $31 million with San Antonio this offseason.
The game highlights the second part of a doubleheader on NBA opening night. TNT will broadcast the contest between the Cavaliers and New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. EDT, followed by Golden State vs. San Antonio at 10:30 p.m. EDT. Fans can watch both games on TV or with a free live stream online with Watch TNT.
Prediction: Golden State over San Antonio, 110-95