With only five games left in the NBA regular season, the Golden State Warriors find themselves at the same spot they were last year.
Although their record is better than that of a year before, they are still currently the sixth seed in a brutal Western Conference.
With the Thunder’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the first four seeds in the West are almost locked into place. The Spurs have essentially locked up the number one overall seed with a three game lead on the Thunder with only four games to play, and the Clippers and Rockets each are almost guaranteed to finish third and fourth.
Once you get past the teams with home court advantage, the situation gets a little more interesting. Portland currently has the inside track for the fifth seed and a date with Houston in the first round, as they control their destiny with only three games left. However, the Warriors also control their own destiny for the fifth seed. If the Warriors were to go 5-0 and finish the season on a seven game win streak, they would matchup with Houston in the first round because of the remaining head-to-head matchup with Portland on April 13th.
However, the Warriors arguably have a more difficult schedule than Portland from here on out. While Portland still has the previously mentioned game against the Warriors and another game against the Clippers, they only have three games left and both of those difficult games will be at home. Also, the game against the Clippers will be Los Angeles’ last game of the season, so they might rest their players with their playoff spot essentially set in stone.
The Warriors on the other hand, despite an overall easier schedule by opponent win percentage, have a difficult end to the season because of the scheduling. The Warriors will be playing five games in seven nights including back-to-backs in Los Angeles against the Lakers and at home against Minnesota. While the Warriors will be favored in these games, playing four games in five nights will be taxing and a loss would not be surprising. Mark Jackson has said he will monitor Andre Iguodala‘s minutes during back-to-backs and David Lee is still out with a hamstring injury, so the roster could be thin during this busy stretch.
The Warriors also face the possibility of moving further down in the standings. If the Warriors were to finish the season on a poor note because of the various injuries and busy scheduling, they could find themselves in a matchup with the Thunder as the seventh seed. However, that is unlikely because Memphis, Phoenix, and Dallas all play each other one more time so chances are they will beat themselves up and prevent one another from climbing too far in the standings.
All in all, it seems the Warriors will end up in the sixth seed and a first round matchup with the “rival” Clippers. However, the Warriors control their own destiny and could find themselves either vs. the Rockets or Thunder. Everyone has a different opinion on who the best matchup is for the Warriors, but either way its going to be a challenging postseason.
Check out a breakdown of the remaining schedules of the Western Conference teams 1-9 here.