On Friday, March 1, the Warriors will enter the final full month of their most exciting season in years.
Even though the Warriors will play eight games in April that will almost definitely determine their ultimate spot in the standings, it is in March that Golden State will have their best chance to put a stamp on this 2012-13 season.
The Warriors will be busy, playing 16 games in 30 days. That type of quick turnaround is never easy, especially not this deep into the marathon that is the NBA season.
That isn't to say that the March slate is all bad for Golden State. Not by any stretch.
Of those 16 games, 11 will be at home and 10 will be against teams with losing records. Considering that the Warriors currently have a 5.5-game cushion on the ninth-place Los Angeles Lakers, the chance to wrap up a playoff berth is there for the taking.
That chance, if it comes, won't come before the end of the month. Along the way, there will be must-see Bay Area NBA basketball games.
That's a rare treat.
The Warriors will kick off March with a daunting road test.
Yes, the Celtics are a daunting team to play in Boston. Even without Rajon Rondo, even considering the Warriors 18-point thumping of the C's on Dec. 29 in Oakland. Since losing Rondo, the Celtics have gone 10-4 and are a strong 20-9 at home this season.
Normally, the Dubs could chalk this one up as a "nice if we win, fine if we lose" tough road test. However, one look at the games surrounding it and recent history suggests otherwise.
The Warriors will enter Boston on one day's rest, this coming after an incredibly tough back-to-back in Indiana and New York, respectively. This may remind you of Feb. 8, when the Warriors headed to Memphis coming off a similarly tough back-to-back: at Houston and at Oklahoma City.
The Warriors, of course, dropped a tight one in Memphis, were blown out in Dallas the next night due to fatigue and the snowballing effect of losing led to two more losses before they could stop the bleeding.
The New York game on Feb. 27 will be tough, and the Philadelphia game on March 2 could be similar to the Dallas game. If the Warriors hope to avoid another scary stretch, they may want to circle this Celtics game right now.
This game will be not be particularly pivotal, at least not compared to the other games on this list.
The Bucks are in the Eastern Conference, the Warriors will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back and the Bucks are very average; neither would a win be a statement nor a loss be a travesty.
The reason this game matters, of course, is Monta Ellis. The "Mississippi Missile" will play in Oakland for the second time playing for the visiting team.
There no doubt be an ovation before the game, cheering when Monta touches the ball early and a positive vibe both ways—the Warriors won't be regretting their trade, nor will Ellis be angry with them for moving him. Both sides are enjoying their first meaningful March slate since Ellis' second year in the league, when he won the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
That doesn't mean Ellis won't be incredibly motivated to torch his former club. While a Warriors win would certainly be nice, watching an inspired Monta Ellis performance is one of the most enjoyable privileges the NBA has to offer.
There's also the Andrew Bogut vs. Milwaukee factor, although that storyline is so far less intriguing that I won't bore you with why.
The Warriors would love to forget the last time they were in Houston.
On Feb. 5, an offensive explosion from Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Co. resulted in an NBA-record tying 23 three pointers and an embarrassing 140-109 loss.
Mark Jackson attempted to protect his players' egos by ordering them to foul at the end of the game so as to not allow Houston to set the NBA record, but his efforts proved to be in vain: The Warriors went on to lose six straight games, allowing at least 115 points in five of them.
This March 17 matchup is again a very dangerous one.
The Dubs will be coming off a seven-game homestand and, hopefully, will be gaining ground in the Western Conference standings. Another loss in Houston to begin a road trip could be a confidence killer and again rob the Warriors of any momentum.
They will play again the next night against the deceptively tough Hornets and again two nights later in San Antonio. A win or a loss in Houston could be the difference between a 2-1 and an 0-3 road trip.
The Rockets not only handled the Warriors and sent them reeling on Feb. 5, but also came into Oakland and won handily a week later.
The Warriors cannot afford to get swept, not when Houston is breathing down their necks and not when a loss could be the difference between a Round 1 matchup versus the Clippers and a matchup versus the Thunder or Spurs.
The two annual Laker appearances in Oakland are always two of the most fun, loud, intense games played all season at Oracle Arena.
You'd still have to go a long, long way back to find one that would measure up to what March 25 has in store.
Let's break down the facts. One, the Warriors will be trying to close in on their second playoff berth in 20 years. Two, the preseason NBA champion Lakers will be fighting for their playoff lives. Three, the Lakers will be attempting to gain ground on the Warriors in the Pacific Division. Four, the last time these two teams met was an OT thriller in Oakland.
Not too much else needs to be said. Buy a ticket, watch on TV, listen on the radio, check your smartphone by the minute or pester your more-fortunate friend every five minutes asking for updates.
Damian Lillard's encore to his homecoming explosion will be a back story.
Sure, if watching the likely-to-be NBA Rookie of the Year attempt to top the career best, 37-point performance he laid out on January 11 in front of hundreds of friends and family members is your idea of a must-see game...you're actually not wrong or misguided at all.
Still, most diehard Warriors fans will await this last March game with a different set of anticipation.
Based on the Warriors current record, home-and-away splits and how they match up against specific opponents, they should enter the Portland game with a record of 43-30. The current ninth-place team, the Los Angeles Lakers, should enter the night at 36-36.
In other words, a Warriors win over Portland and a Lakers loss to Sacramento would leave the Warriors on the brink of clinching a postseason berth.
With the following two games against New Orleans and Phoenix, a March 30 home win would have Oracle Arena exploding with excitement and anticipation.