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The Warriors’ recent playoff run is one that will be remembered for years to come in the Bay Area and beyond. Superstar performances, guys playing through injuries, out-of-this-world support from the home fans … all truly the stuff of playoff legend. While we’ll reflect fondly on Stephen Curry’s third-quarter eruptions, Andrew Bogut’s ferocious dunks and David Lee’s inspirational play, let’s not forget what got us there, or what Head Coach Mark Jackson would call The Process.

The regular season brought with it several defining moments in its own right, and we break them down with our list of the 10 most important games of the Warriors’ 2012-13 campaign, some of which may surprise you. Please note that this is regular season only ...

1. December 12 at Miami Heat – “The Statement”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
The Warriors arrived in Miami four games into their season-long seven-game road trip with a perfect 4-0 record, and the defending champs had taken notice. Prior to the game, LeBron James vowed that the Heat would be ready for the young Dubs, and really, he spoke the truth. Miami was ready. But for the first time in a long time for the Warriors, that wasn’t good enough. Jarrett Jack found Draymond Green with a last-second backdoor cut and the Warriors came through with a dramatic 97-95 victory, far and away their most impressive and important road win in quite some time. But it wasn’t just a win. It was bigger than that. By walking into Miami and beating the defending champs for their fifth consecutive victory to open the road trip, this was an announcement – nay, a statement – to the rest of the league that this Golden State team was a different kind of animal. For a young team looking to create an identity, this was a watershed moment.

2. February 27 at New York Knicks – “The Garden”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
On a night when the Warriors were without David Lee due to suspension, Golden State placed its’ hopes in the hands of its supremely talented young point guard, and Stephen Curry responded with one of the most memorable performances in franchise history. Behind a franchise-record 11 three-pointers, Curry went off for a career-high 54 points, the highest single-game scoring output of any player in the league this season, on the biggest stage in the basketball world – Madison Square Garden in New York City. It wasn’t just the numbers. It was how he did it. Never before has any player so effortlessly shot the ball from any point around the perimeter with everybody in the building expecting it to go in. Everyone in attendance or watching the game that night was witnessing something special – the exact moment a player makes the jump from star to superstar. Ultimately, Golden State was unable to get the win, but sometimes there’s more value in a loss. Several years from now, we may look back at this game and say that was the night the franchise’s stars were realigned, with the brightest one undoubtedly wearing #30.

Stephen Curry captivated basketball fans around the world with one of the most impressive shooting displays in NBA history in front of the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

3. January 21 vs. L.A. Clippers – “The Answer”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
One of this season’s signs of the Warriors’ progress was the fact that they became true competitors within their own division, and that was most evident in the season series with the Clippers. The Dubs sneaked out of L.A. with an early-season win over the Clippers and then posted a blow-out win at home in January before being blown out in Los Angeles the very next game. All of this led up to the crucial fourth-and-final game between the two teams on January 21 in Oakland. Down seven points entering the fourth quarter, Stephen Curry hit four three-pointers in the final frame as the Warriors came away with a dramatic 106-99 victory and claimed the season series 3-1 over the more heralded Clippers. At that point, Los Angeles had lost only ten total games all season long, and for three of the defeats to come at the hands of the once-downtrodden Warriors was a significant sign that the landscape was changing.

4. February 22 vs. San Antonio Spurs – “The Golden Standard”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
Debuting their innovative new short-sleeved gold jerseys in a battle at Oracle Arena on February 22, the Warriors made a statement by recovering from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 107-101 overtime win over the Spurs, who at the time had the best record in the NBA. No Warriors player was bigger than Jarrett Jack, who scored 17 of his game-high 30 points over the final 17 minutes of the game, becoming the first player to have a 30-and-10 night off the bench since Magic Johnson in 1996. The Warriors had taken the Spurs’ best shot and prevailed, proving to themselves and the rest of the league that they could play with the perennial powerhouse. Although math defies it, this was one of those games that prove the old adage that all victories are not created equal.

5. March 25 vs. L. A. Lakers – “The Shift”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
Even though the Warriors had carried a better record than the Lakers for essentially the entire season, this was a chance for the younger brother to finally prove he had outgrown his elder. Energized by one of the more electric crowds of the year, the Warriors came away with a critical 109-103 victory, and really the game wasn’t that close until the Lakers went on a couple extended runs late in the game. On the small scale, this was yet further proof that the Warriors had entered a new era in their franchise, where it was no longer a guarantee that the Lakers would be the most talented team on the floor in this battle between Northern and Southern California. But in more magnanimous terms, this game represented the long-awaited power shift within the Pacific division. Next year, for the first time in a long time, the division will enter a new season without a clear-cut favorite.

David Lee was one of three Warriors to score 20 or more points as Golden State took down their rivals from the south.

6. April 17 at Portland Trail Blazers – “The Record”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
It went down to the last day of the regular season, but Stephen Curry found a way to get it done. The Warriors’ brilliant point guard set a new NBA record with 272 made three-pointers in a season, and did so with astonishing accuracy (.453). In what is likely the best overall shooting season of all-time, perhaps the most impressive aspect of it all was the fact that Curry is only 25 years old, meaning he should have plenty of opportunities to break the record he now exclusively owns. In addition to Curry breaking the record, the April 17th game in Portland was extra special as the resulting Warriors’ win secured the sixth seed in the West for Golden State. />

7. February 17 NBA All-Star Game – “The Showcase”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
To be fair, this one wasn’t actually a Warriors game, but it was highly significant nonetheless. By earning a selection on the Western Conference All-Star team, David Lee simultaneously put Golden State on the national map, while putting an end to one of the more ugly droughts in franchise history, as the Warriors’ most recent All-Star up to that point had been Latrell Spreewell in 1997. Lee’s presence at the All-Star game was a symbol of validation. The Warriors had earned the right to have a representative in the game with their stellar play up to that point, and it was only fair that Lee, who had carried the team with the best play of his career in the first couple months of the season, had the honor of participating in it. The All-Star game was undoubtedly a momentous event in the history of the franchise, but more significantly, it can be rightfully viewed as a demarcation between the Warriors’ underwhelming past and their promising future. />

8. January 29 at Cleveland Cavaliers – “The Difference”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
A key ingredient to success in the NBA is depth. Without it, key players can get burnt out quickly, or even worse, hurt. That was the situation the Warriors faced in Cleveland on January 29, playing their second road game in as many nights without the aid of Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry, who were all out due to injury. While some would write this off as an unavoidable loss, the Warriors had other ideas. Klay Thompson caught fire over the second and third quarters and finished the game with then career-highs of 32 points and six three-pointers, as the Warriors blew out the Cavs 108-95. It was an important night, particularly for the second-year shooting guard in Thompson, and it also showed that the Warriors can win in several different ways.

Klay Thompson's emergence as a potent offensive force was one of the key developments in the Warriors' success.

9. March 17 vs. Houston – “The Response”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
You can learn a lot about a team from the way they respond to embarrassment. The Rockets, to put it bluntly, had embarrassed the Warriors, winning the first three head-to-head matchups between the two teams, including a 140-109 drubbing in which they tied an NBA record with 23 made 3-pointers. Well, let’s just say the Warriors responded in the season’s fourth and final meeting on March 17. In a game that featured a pair of teams jockeying for playoff position, heading into it the Warriors had a half-game advantage over Houston in the standings, Golden State posted a 108-78 win and equaled the club’s largest margin of victory this season. More importantly, with the win, the Warriors were telling the rest of the league that they would not be pushed around, and had been through enough trials and tribulations to prove it. />

10. November 2 vs. Memphis Grizzlies – “The Home Opener”
GAME RECAP | HIGHLIGHTS | PHOTO GALLERY
The outcome – a 104-94 Warriors loss in the team’s home opener – was less important than what happened with four minutes left of the opening quarter. The reaction for a possible early-season dunk of the year candidate never took place, and instead an eerie silence fell upon the typically-raucous Oracle Arena crowd as Brandon Rush went down with a torn MCL and ACL in his left knee. It was a significant gut check to a team not even five quarters into the season, and could have easily been taken as a sign that this year was just not to be…again. But what could have been used as an easy excuse suddenly turned into a rallying cry as the Warriors dedicated their season #4BRush. It was a critical step for such a young team, as their persistence in the face of adversity remained a necessary constant throughout their regular and postseason success. />

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As the Warriors build on this past season and continue their recent success well on into the future, the team and its’ fans will become more accustomed to the understanding that the most meaningful victories don’t come in March and April, but rather in May and hopefully one day, in June. We got a taste of that in these last few weeks when the Warriors proved they absolutely belong in the postseason, matching up against the likes of the Nuggets and Spurs. The season wasn’t a complete success in the sense that only one team can win the championship, and obviously that won’t be the Warriors this year. But aside from that, the Warriors surpassed expectations in nearly every account. There’s no doubt that this team is headed for bigger and brighter things, but let’s not forget that it took an amazing regular season to get to this point. And while we’ve certainly come a long way, understand that the process is far from complete. It’s actually just getting started.

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