Can the Warriors still get the 6 seed and avoid the play-in tournament?
As the playoffs inch closer and closer, many teams are running out of wiggle room and surprisingly, that also includes the defending champions, Golden State Warriors.
Whether we’re talking about golf, tennis, football or even chess, the fact remains that if you win a title, the first thing you’ve got to do is defend it. Unfortunately for the Golden State Warriors, they are now in danger of missing out on an opportunity to even begin their title defense, as they are struggling to secure their ticket to the post season.
The Warriors need to hold firm
If you didn’t know, the NBA’s defending champion, Golden State Warriors, are currently sitting at No. 6 in the Western Conference on a record of 39-36. What that means is that if they wish to avoid the play-in tournament, they’ve got to ensure that they drop no further than that.
“We definitely want to stay out of the play-in tournament,” Stephen Curry said following the Warriors’ 120-112 win over 76ers on Friday night. “You never know how that can go - a single game here or there.” Of course, Curry is speaking from experience after he watched his team crash out of the tournament in 2021 after a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. As things stand, there are less than 10 regular season games left meaning the Warriors situation is anything but safe. Half a game behind the Suns who sit in fourth and possess home-court advantage for the for the first round, the Warriors have also got to look behind them at the Mavericks who may be in 11th but are just 2.5 games back. To be frank, there is no margin for error.
“That is dangerous,” Draymond Green said when speaking of the play-in tournament. “We’d much rather avoid that...We just try to win every game we play. I don’t think it’s necessarily, ‘Aw man, we can catch those guys.’ It’s a log jam. If you take care of business and win the games you’re supposed to - maybe one or two that you’re not supposed to win - you put yourself in a great position. That’s our goal.”
The Warriors must find their form
Now, while seeding is of great importance, the other side of this is rhythm. The last thing any team wants to do is arrive at the playoffs stage without it. This is something the Warriors are all too aware of as they attempt to not only win games, but look good while doing so. “The mindset is always you’re trying to put together a solid run heading into the playoffs. Nobody wants to limbo into the playoffs and have to turn it on,” Curry said. “We somewhat did that last year, but you’d rather not have that kind of uncertainty going in. No matter how it pans out, you want to be firing on all cylinders.”
It’s now or never for the Warriors
Heading into Sunday night’s game against the 7th seed Minnesota Timberwolves, one would have expected the Warriors to make good on Curry’s proposed call for more fuel in the engine. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as Golden State fell to a tough-to-swallow 99-96 loss. Needless to say, any possible wiggle room that previously existed is now nonexistent. Though they still hold on to the 6th seed following the loss, it’s truly a back against the wall situation. They’ve still got to play the Pelicans and the Thunder, both of whom are still in contention for a playoff spot in the West. Assuming they can win both of those games, that should just about push them over the line. On the other hand, if they don’t then it could be a trip to the play-in tournament that awaits them, or even worse: no trip at all.
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