A few weeks ago I wrote an article about how Andrew Bogut fueled the Warriors championship aspirations. At the time, the Dubs were sitting pretty with a middle seed in the Western Conference and they seemed to almost have their playoff spot secured.
In the time frame since then, the Warriors have dropped four games bringing the losing streak to six games without a win. During this streak, they’ve given up an average of 117.5 points per game, a number that would have them ranked dead last in defensive scoring by a wide margin (almost 14 points/game).
Well, what the “fudge” happened? They went from being almost guaranteed a playoff spot to now possibly facing elimination as they struggle to hold on. There are now, by my count, twenty-nine games left, with the Dubs facing a favorable schedule. But we also have to consider the other teams; the teams that can possibly knock them out of a playoff berth.
Currently, the Warriors are tied for the sixth seed in the Western Conference with the Utah Jazz. Luckily, for Golden State fans, they have an incredibly tough schedule with almost half of their games on the road. However, if they overcome their schedule, it would knock the Warriors down to the seventh seed and only two games ahead of the Houston Rockets.
The Rockets are tough and hungry team led by James Harden and Jeremy Lin-sanity. They’ve done enough to stick around as the eighth seed for most of the season, but if the Warriors continue their slide, the Rockets could one-up them. But the Dubs do have chances to extend their lead over the “Rockettes” in March, where they host them twice at Oracle Arena. Two wins at home against the young Houston squad could prove crucial down the stretch.
There are two other teams currently on the playoff bubble: the Trailblazers and the Dwightmare 2.0s.
The Portland Trail Blazers are three games behind the final playoff spot, and five behind Mark Jackson & Co. While they might not pose an immediate threat, the Warriors do have a home-and-home series with Blazers that can prove to be a problem. Portland, however, is in a similar situation as the Warriors, losing five games on the road, including an ugly game against the Hornets where they only managed to put up 65 points. I’m not as fearful of the Blazers as I am of the Lakers.
The Lakers have had a rough start. They made the mistake of hiring D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson (side note: how does D’Antoni keep getting high-profile jobs? He went from being forced out as Knicks head coach, to picking up a better job on a more reputable team), estranged the entire roster from one another, and have just recently lost team owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
Even though they’re a sub-.500 team right now, the Lakers are the team I fear the most. I believe that they simply have too much talent between them to be this bad. It’s a team that’s been to a combined thirty-seven All-Star Games and with leadership in the forms of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. They’re already a strong offensive team, with Kobe taking a more facilitative role than ever before. Unless Dwightmare 2.0 completely ruins the season, it would be unfair to consider the Lakers out of the playoffs or as a threat to the Warriors.
Due to their ongoing losing streak, Golden State has slim hopes of moving up to a higher seeding in the playoffs. The Denver Nuggets are three games ahead. Although, the Warriors haven’t played as well as they did earlier in the year, I don’t mind them staying put as the sixth-seed.
If the season ended today, they would be set to face the Clippers, a team that the Warriors have been successful against, going 3-1 against them for the season. The other options would be San Antonio, the Thunder, and the Grizzlies; teams that the Warriors have a losing record against. The Warriors do have a chance to even out their series with the Thunder, and also play three more games against the Spurs, so not everything is settled. The Grizzlies, though, have beaten the Dubs in all three meetings, but things could change without Rudy Gay.
It’s been years, six to be exact, since the last Golden State playoff appearance. This team was off to a hot start and the playoffs looked promising, but the current state of near-turmoil has dampened the Warriors outlooks. It’s now up to the Warriors to right the ship and hold on for another twenty-nine games as they try to clinch their spot in the postseason.