The Golden State Warriors have only made the playoffs once since ’94-’95, but seem increasingly likely to make it this year. With a record of 42-32, the Warriors are the best Western Conference team that has not yet clinched a spot.
Their magic number for clinching currently stands at five games. That means for every Warriors’ win, or loss from a team in ninth (Lakers or Jazz), the number drops by one. When it hits zero, the Warriors have locked up their first spot in the postseason since the We Believe team of ’06-’07.
However, locking up a playoff spot is not all that the Warriors want. Hypothetically Golden State could conceivably still make the playoffs by dropping into the seventh or eighth seed. Unfortunately that would mean facing San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the first round. As the six seed, Golden State would play either Memphis, Denver or the Los Angeles Clippers, which represent much better matchups.
Houston, the seven seed, plays tonight against the Orlando Magic. They have played one less game than Golden State, but will pull even tonight. The Warriors currently have a 1.5 game lead on the six seed, and could either be up one or two up after this match.
With just eight games remaining in the regular season for the Warriors, every one could have serious playoff implications. For example, every team ranked between the fifth and tenth spot in the Western Conference is coming off a victory in their last game.
The playoff push is surely going to come down to the wire. Golden State needs to prepare better for lesser opponents, who have typically pulled them down to their level all season. With games against New Orleans and Phoenix coming up this week, the Warriors may be able to extend their lead on the six seed.
Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.