By Jim Williams
Special to The Examiner
The Golden State Warriors will open their first season at the Chase Center on Thursday against a Clippers squad that many experts see as the best team in the NBA, which means TNT will be sending their “Inside the NBA studio” team of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson to San Francisco to broadcast live.
The TNT broadcast crew of Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and in-game reporter Allie LaForce will be on hand to call the action as well as introduce the nation to Golden State’s new Mission Bay home.
I spoke to Miller via conference call this week about the Warriors, life after Kevin Durant and what the new building means for the franchise. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Williams: This is a rare season where the Warriors aren’t a favorite to win the West. How do you see things going this season for Golden State?
Miller: First off they are a playoff-caliber team, but with such a deep Western Conference this season, where they land in the seeding — that is up for debate. You can’t overlook what they have lost in a superstar like K.D., and — to me their biggest loss — Andre Iguodala, who was a force both on offense as well as his defense. Add to that, you lose Klay Thompson — your best two-way player overall — to injury for most of the year and that makes things very challenging to this team.
Williams: Who do you see stepping up this season that will be key to the Warriors staying in the upper part of the race in the West?
Reggie: Well, let’s start with D’Angelo Russell. He needs to step up and run Steve Kerr’s offense. You are counting now on Kevon Looney to make a major move and the bench will need to pick up the slack. I know in speaking with the coaching staff that they are managing their expectations, as the team is in a bit of transition. But these guys know how to win and you never underestimate the heart of a champion.
I also think that this will be a very good year for Steph Curry, who loves it when the Warriors are underestimated, and he could regain his MVP form this season, but they need their core group to play 75 to 80 games this year and they can’t have any injuries. That would really be a problem because of their lack of depth. I will say this for the very talented Draymond Green: Have patience, my friend. You were spoiled with the depth of talent on the team in the past, but these other guys need you to keep your cool and be patient.
Lastly, if Golden State can stay healthy, Steph has the kind of season that I think he will and they get Klay Thompson back a couple of weeks before the end of the season, I would not want to be the Lakers or the Clippers drawing them as a six-, seven- or eight-seed in the playoffs. That would be a nightmare.
Williams: This is the Warriors first season at the Chase Center. How does that affect how a team who has played in the same building for decades?
Miller: First, let me say that I did a preseason game at the Chase Center, and it is already one of — if not the best — buildings in the league. The sight lines are amazing. They lowered the roof a bit to keep the noise level up. It is not as big as Oracle was, so it is a more intimate building. So from a fan’s perspective, this is a super place to watch a game. Now, from a player’s perspective, I went through this in Indiana when we moved from Market Square Arena to at the time it was called Conseco Fieldhouse, and of course, it takes time to get a feel for the new place, but on the plus side, this is a team that has been to five straight NBA Finals, so they have the talent to make the transition a great deal smoother.
Opening night will be the first of 30 scheduled national broadcasts for Golden State, with this being the first of 12 on TNT. ABC 7 will have five and ESPN will air 13 games. NBA TV will air the local feed of another 12 Warriors telecasts to a national audience.
More Warriors broadcasting news:
NBC Sports Bay Area will again be the television home of the Warriors. The game broadcasts will be a mix of the old and the new, with Bob Fitzgerald in his 23rd season doing the play-by-play alongside his new color analyst — former Warrior Kelenna Azubuike, who has been part of the NBC Sports Bay Area studio crew for the past four years.
On the radio, 95.7 FM The Game is back as the flagship, and you can hear all the games on the Warriors Radio app in the Apple App Store as well as the Google Play Store.
Tim Roye will be celebrating his 25th season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Warriors, while Jim Barnett is making the move from TV to the radio side as he marks his 35th season on the Golden State broadcasts.