This Warriors’ season has been a huge stride from last year’s 23-43 (.348) record. The franchise has had one playoff appearance in the last 17 years, and having been 30-17 in early February, the team had their best start since 1991-92. The future looked bright as the team also celebrated its first All-Star, David Lee, since Latrell Sprewell in 1997.
Then the Warriors had a slew of road games in February and early March that did not go well with them losing 9 of their 10 road games during that stretch. Since then they have not been as hot as they were at the start of their season. So what is to become of the early expectations they created amongst their long hungry fans. The almost unthinkable now has to be considered: Is it possible the Warriors will not make the playoffs?
There’s no telling yet, but here are the facts. 9 of their 14 final games are at home where they currently boast an almost 69% win record. The Lakers’ ongoing injuries and the Jazz’s recent slide (coupled with a tough remaining schedule) should work to keep them in 6th or 7th with the Rockets and the Lakers being the main opponents that have a chance to leapfrog them. However, the Warriors did just blow the Rockets out by 30 points in Sunday’s away game in Houston.
Whether the Dubs end up in 6th or 7th may actually be a big deal depending on what happens in the race for third between Memphis, Denver and the Clippers. Warriors fans will want the Grizzlies (and Nuggets) to lose as many games as possible and the Clippers to be win heavy. This ideally results in a #3 Clippers vs #6 Warriors first round matchup. As we’ve seen in their head-to-head matches this season, a Warriors-Clippers series would give the Warriors the best chance at a first round upset. The Grizzlies, Spurs and Thunder stand to be more difficult opponents to take on.
So playoffs? Yes, the Warriors are likely to make the playoffs but there is a very real chance they could lose in the first round. They’ve come this far because of the All Star seasons from Curry and Lee, as well as Sixth Man of the Year-quality play from Jarrett Jack but for the team to win in the playoffs they will need all factors to be in sync. Regardless, just making the playoffs equates to a successful season for this Warriors team. They can continue to build upon the successes they had this season and we should definitely expect a deeper run next year along with at least several more years of playoff qualification to come. For Warriors fans the future, for now, is looking golden.
*To keep an eye on playoff qualification chances head over to ESPN for the most recent standings: http://espn.go.com/nba/standings