At long last, the Warriors are back.After a year at the bottom of the NBA with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson wearing suits instead of sneakers, the Warriors return to the NBA spotlight on Dec. 22 when they visit Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets to open the season. While Thompson will once again miss the entire season -- this time due to a right Achilles tear -- Curry and the rest of the Warriors are itching to show the world that rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated.The first half of the NBA's 72-game regular-season schedule was released Friday, giving us our first full look at the Warriors' road back to NBA title contention.What would schedule release day be without predictions? Let's take a stroll through the Warriors' first-half docket and see where we expect them to be at the midway point.
Dec. 22 at Nets: This will be the first time we've seen Kevin Durant on a court since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals and the first time he and Kyrie Irving will have played together as teammates. Durant puts on a show to prove he's all the way back and Irving drills a late 3-pointer to seal a 112-102 Opening Night win for the Nets.
Dec. 25 at Bucks: The Warriors shake off that Opening Night loss a few days later against the two-time reigning MVP. Curry goes off for 45 points and Kelly Oubre adds 25 as the Warriors earn a 121-110 win.
Dec. 27 at Bulls: The young Bulls still are figuring out Billy Donovan's system and get easily brushed aside by the Warriors. Draymond Green records a double-double and Andrew Wiggins scores 29 in a blowout win.
Dec. 29 at Pistons: The Pistons and their four-center lineup don't have any answers for Curry (35 points), Oubre (27) and Wiggins (21) as the Warriors cruise once again.
Jan. 1 vs. Trail Blazers: After easy wins in the Midwest, the Warriors find themselves in a dog fight against one of the Western Conference's title contenders. Damian Lillard and Curry trade long-distance 3s in a back-and-forth final stanza, but Curry finds Oubre for a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift the Warriors past the Blazers and to a 4-1 record.
Jan. 3 vs. Trail Blazers: Beating a quality opponent two games in a row is a tough ask. CJ McCollum drops 38 as the Blazers earn a 107-99 win.
Jan. 4 vs. Kings: The rebuilding Kings arrive at Chase Center and are quickly turned upside down by the Warriors. James Wiseman has the best game of his young career, scoring 16 points and pulling down 11 rebounds in a blowout win.
Jan. 6 vs. Clippers: The Warriors split their first four games against expected title contenders but clearly are outmatched in their first showdown with Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. Curry is held to 21 points on 5-for-19 shooting and the Clippers get a 117-102 win.
Jan. 8 vs. Clippers: The second matchup with the Clippers doesn't go much better than the first, as Curry scores 32 but gets little help from the supporting cast in a 12-point loss to LA.
Jan. 10 vs. Raptors: Toronto is a different animal than it was in the 2019 Finals without Leonard and Serge Ibaka. The Warriors take their frustrations out on the visitors from Toronto Tampa Bay. Green scores 25 and Oubre chips in 23 in a 109-95 win.
Jan. 12 vs. Pacers: Indiana might be one player short of true title contention, but the Pacers give the Warriors all they can handle in a thrilling affair at Chase Center. T.J. Warren drops 36 points, but Curry drills a 3-pointer at the horn to send the cardboard crowd into a frenzy.
Jan. 14 at Nuggets: The Warriors' center rotation is put to the test in the Mile High City and doesn't pass. Nikola Jokic notches 25 points, 15 boards and 11 assists while Michael Porter Jr. leads all scorers with 29 in a 114-103 Nuggets win.
Jan. 15 at Suns: Oubre arrives back in the desert and lights up his old team for 32 while Curry continues to own Chris Paul. Warriors make a statement about the pecking order in the West with a 127-101 win.
Jan. 18 at Lakers: Golden State's second test against an elite big man goes as poorly as the first. Anthony Davis dominates, scoring 36 in a 109-96 Lakers win.
Jan. 20 vs. Spurs: These aren't your father's Spurs. Curry and Wiggins both have huge games as the Warriors cruise past Gregg Popovich's team
Jan. 21 vs. Knicks: The Warriors enter an easy stretch of their schedule by bulldozing the Knicks behind 28 points and 10 rebounds from Wiggins.
Jan. 23 at Jazz: Rudy Gobert doesn't present the offensive threat that Jokic and Davis do, so the Warriors' centers hold their own as Curry (44) outduels Donovan Mitchell (38) in a Warriors' win.
Jan. 25 vs. Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns has a huge game, but he gets little help from D'Angelo Russell or Anthony Edwards as the Warriors cruise.
Jan. 27 vs. Timberwolves: The night off doesn't help Russell, who once again goes cold from the field and watches his old team waltz to their fifth straight win.
Jan. 28 at Suns: Paul gets revenge for the early-season shellacking he and the Suns suffered as he, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton combine for 72 points in a 113-98 win.
Jan. 30 vs. Pistons: The Pistons offer the perfect get right game for the Warriors following a loss to the Suns. Oubre cans six 3-pointers in a runaway win.
Feb. 2 vs. Celtics: The Wiggins-Oubre wing pairing faces one of their toughest tasks when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown arrive at Chase Center. The two Celtics stars combine for 51 and Tristan Thompson hammers the Warriors on the glass in a 13-point Celtics win.
Feb. 4 at Mavericks: Golden State's first trip to the Luka Doncic show is one they wish to forget. The Mavericks all-everything star scores 39 as Dallas earns a 119-104 win.
Feb. 6 at Mavericks: The rematch two days later sees the Warriors hold Doncic to 21 points on 6-for-22 shooting while Wiggins (27), Green (18) and Oubre (17) give Curry (31) the necessary backup to earn an 11-point win.
Feb. 8 at Spurs: San Antonio takes another beating from the Warriors and Gregg Popovich already is thinking about the Summer Olympics.
Feb. 9 at Spurs: The Warriors continue to have the Spurs' number as they orchestrate a blowout in the Lone Star State.
Feb. 11 vs. Magic: Wiggins' stellar season continues as he leads the Warriors with 29 points and 11 rebounds in a 97-86 win over Orlando.
Feb. 13 vs. Nets: Durant returns to the house he helped build but never played in to raucous cheers from the cardboard versions of Dub Nation. Durant once again puts on a show, but Curry outdoes his former teammate, dropping 44 in a 117-113 win.
Feb. 15 vs. Cavs: This one won't bring back memories of their NBA Finals battles. Cleveland still is in Phase 1 of a lengthy rebuild and has no answer for Curry, Wiggins and Oubre.
Feb. 17 vs. Heat: Andre Iguodala's Heat arrive in The Bay and have little trouble with the new-look Warriors. The trio of Iguodala, Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley hound Curry all night and Tyler Herro knocks down five triples in a 105-92 Miami win.
Feb. 19 at Magic: Aaron Gordon (36) does all he can to will the Magic to an upset win, but Oubre scores 31 and Curry adds 25 as the Warriors narrowly avoid defeat.
Feb. 20 at Hornets: LaMelo Ball stinks up the joint in his first game against the Warriors, meanwhile James Wiseman scores 20 points for the first time in his career, showing the Warriors they made the right call. 117-99 Golden State.
Feb. 23 at Knicks: Madison Square Garden and Steph Curry go together like America and apple pie in the 1950s. Curry drops 52 as the Warriors obliterate the Knicks.
Feb. 24 at Pacers: The Pacers remember the buzzer-beating loss from earlier and take it personally. Domantas Sabonis notches 28 while TJ Warren adds 26 and Myles Turner scores 23 in a convincing Pacers win.
Feb. 26 vs. Hornets: Different day, same story for the Hornets as they are rolled up and tossed aside by the Warriors.
Feb. 28 at Lakers: Curry does all he can to boost the Warriors past the conference-leading Lakers, but LeBron James records a triple-double and Anthony Davis scores 35 in a 113-101 Lakers win.
Mar. 3 at Trail Blazers: The final game of the first-half sees the Warriors struggle at the artist formerly known as the Rose Garden. Lillard scores 37 and McCollum drops 29 as the Blazers improve to 2-1 against the Warriors.