We’re less than a week until the end of the regular season, and the postseason puzzle is far from being completely put together. Five Western Conference teams have clinched a berth and the Warriors can be added to that group with a win at home tonight against the Nuggets. Three other teams are trying to play their way in to the postseason, and one of those teams will be on the outside looking in.
Who plays who in the first round of the playoffs is far from certain, as seeding in the West could become a fluid process over the next six days with just two games separating sixth from eighth place in the conference.
So where do the Warriors fit in? The Dubs are currently in sixth place with five games to go. Win any of those and they’re in the playoffs for the second straight year. Here’s how ….
The four teams in contention for the final three playoff spots in the West are the Warriors (48-29), Mavericks (48-31), Suns (47-31) and Grizzlies (46-32). The Warriors don’t have any remaining games against those three other teams, however the Mavericks, Suns and Grizzlies each have two games left against each other (4/12 Suns at Dallas; 4/14 Memphis at Phoenix; 4/16 Dallas at Memphis). The Warriors have the tie-breaker advantage over Dallas (Dubs are 3-1 vs. Dallas this year) and Phoenix (both teams are 2-2 in head-to-head match-ups but Warriors have clinched a better division record than the Suns). The Warriors’ tie-breaker with the Grizzlies will come down to who has the better record against Western Conference opponents, as the two squads split the four-game season series. The Warriors are currently three games ahead of Memphis in terms of conference record with each of their five remaining games against the West. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have three of their four remaining games against conference opponents. If Memphis were to tie the Warriors in both record and conference record, they would need to win against Phoenix, Dallas or both. If that were to happen, the Warriors would at worst, be tied with Phoenix and/or Dallas, provided the Dubs win one of their next five games. And if that’s the case, the Warriors would make the playoffs due to the previously mentioned tie-breakers.
Yes, this year’s playoff picture is a little complicated to say the least. All you need to know is that the Warriors are in the 2014 NBA Playoffs if they win one of their next five games. If they lose out, there’s still a strong possibility they make it, but why take it out of your own hands?
Now that it’s almost official that the Dubs’ season won’t come to an end next Wednesday, where will they be seeded and who will they play against in the first round? Mathematically, the Warriors can finish as good as fourth place, which would mean they can actually have home-court advantage in a first-round series. That possibility, however, would vanish if the Rockets win one of their remaining games or if the Dubs suffered one more loss.
The Warriors do, however, have a legitimate shot at reaching fifth place. They are currently two games behind Portland and have a date with the Trail Blazers on Sunday night. If the Dubs win on Sunday and have the same amount of losses as Portland the rest of the way, they would pick up another game in the standings on Portland (Golden State has two more games left than the Blazers). If the Warriors lose in Rip City on Sunday, then it would be nearly impossible to get the fifth seed.
Golden State can also fall to seventh or eighth, but they can eliminate that option by just winning three of the last five games. And if they win two or fewer games the rest of the way, then the head-to-head matchups between Phoenix, Dallas and Memphis over the final five days of the regular season will become very interesting for Warriors fans.