Looking at the Warriors’ Playoff Picture - 4/29/21
Play-In Tournament Race Tightens With Dubs Set to Play Five Games Against Sub-.500 Opponents
We are in the middle of a big week for the Warriors and those in Dub Nation watching the Western Conference standings.
While the Warriors loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday doesn’t help the Dubs’ chances of a top-six standing, and guaranteed playoff spot, the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings have fallen further away from the 10th and final play-in seed.
What does this mean?
The road to the NBA Playoffs is becoming more focused for the Dubs as the fight for positioning within the 7th through 10th seeds that make up the Play-In Tournament heats up even more now.
Following Wednesday’s slate of games, the Portland Trail Blazers have slipped deeper into seventh place and the Play-In Tournament discussion after playing #8 Memphis Grizzlies three times this week and losing two of the three bouts. This keeps the coveted #7 seed within reach of the Dubs.
On the Horizon for the Dubs
The Warriors are away this week as they are set for their final road trip of the season, playing four road games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and a back-to-back set with the New Orleans Pelicans. After that, the Dubs return home for a two-game set against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
These are the games to be excited about, Dub Nation. Our next six games are all against opponents who need to get hot quick to have a shot at reaching the Play-In Tournament.
Looking at the Dubs’ strength of schedule, the combined winning percentage of the Warriors’ opponents through the remainder of the season, this block of games is among the reasons why the squad has the fourth easiest schedule remaining (.447) in the NBA.
The Warriors are just a half-game behind the Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs, who are tied at #8. There is a chance at reaching the #7 Trail Blazers given the difficulty level of their schedule, too, detailed below.
If there was a time to make a move in the standings, this would be the week to do it.
Keeping an Eye Around the Dubs
Within the four teams ahead of the Warriors jockeying for tournament positioning, the relative strength of schedules are strong or weak (based on opponent winning percentage), with nothing in between. The Mavericks have one of the easiest schedules and can distance themselves further from the pack while already sitting in the safety of the #6 spot, but that makes this race to the end all the more interesting as even the #7 Trail Blazers have a tough road ahead and could fall closer to the Warriors, Spurs and Grizzlies.
San Antonio Spurs
Strength of Schedule Remaining: .624, 1st in NBA
Key Games: at POR (May 8)
The Spurs have just one game remaining that has any direct impact on the West’s play-in situation, and that will be May 8 against the the Trail Blazers. Though that game may be over one week away, the Spurs will have plenty more to worry about as they hold the strongest strength of schedule in the league: this week alone they will have the Boston Celtics and then top conference powerhouses in the Utah Jazz (twice) and Philadelphia 76ers.
Strength of Schedule Remaining: .408, 29th in NBA
Key Games: vs DAL (May 11), at GSW (May 16)
While the Grizzlies are tied with the Spurs for 9th place in the standings following Wednesday’s games, Memphis is on the opposite side of the strength of schedule spectrum the the next-to-best one remaining. They have five games including two back-to-back sets in this next week, but the Grizzlies only have one opponent in either conference’s respective playoff hunt, and that is a matchup with the New York Knicks on Monday.
Portland Trail Blazers
Strength of Schedule Remaining: .551, 5th in NBA
Key Games: vs SAS (May 8)
On a mini-winning streak of two games, the Trail Blazers enter an East Coast swing this week that includes formidable opponents in the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks. Their May 8 matchup with the Spurs will also be the second half of a back-to-back for Portland, and their final three games of the season are against the current top three teams in the Western Conference (Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers).
Strength of Schedule Remaining: .428, 28th in NBA
Key Games: at MEM (May 11)
Like Memphis and the Dubs, the Mavericks have among the easiest schedules remaining per the strength of schedule metric. They play three sub-.500 teams this week before encountering the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, who are battling for their own positioning in the Eastern Conference’s race.
While strength of schedule gives us some idea of how easy or difficult each team’s path forward may be, we all know there is still much basketball to be played and anything can happen.
Be a part of the playoff hunt with the Warriors when they return from their four-game road trip and face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday May 6 (7 p.m., NBCSBA). Buy tickets here and get to know the Fan Safety Guide as you prepare to cheer on the team through the home stretch at Chase Center.
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