The Golden State Warriors have the second-best record in the NBA, and the only thing standing between them and homecourt advantage for the entire playoffs is the 6.5-point advantage the Phoenix Suns currently have.
However, the Suns will be without Chris Paul for a minimum of 6 weeks with a broken thumb. The play-in tournament, for reference, starts on April 12. Paul’s injury is set to be reevaluated in 6-8 weeks, so he could miss the entirety of the regular season.
The Warriors have 23 games to make up a 6.5-game difference in the Western Conference standings. With Suns’ Chris Paul sidelined, it could be possible.
Paul may not be the team’s leading scorer, but he’s certainly the floor general for the Western Conference’s best team. Paul is one of two players, the other being James Harden, to average a double-double with assists this season.
While he may not, on paper, be the team’s most dynamic scorer, he’s the distributor.
He gets players like Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges the shots that they’re able to knock down. Those two especially aren’t playmakers in their own right. Even Deandre Ayton is far better with Paul on the court.
The Warriors will catch a huge break if they’re able to make a run down the stretch. However, they’ll still be short-handed themselves, currently still without four-time All-Star forward Draymond Green.
The Suns will get a little blessing from the schedule as well, having the 25th-hardest strength of schedule remaining. The Warriors rank 7th, so it’ll obviously be a tad more difficult for them to string together ten straight wins.
The Suns have been 10.4 points per 100 possessions better than their opponent with Paul on the court. Without help from the veteran guard, they could easily struggle down the stretch.
If Green can return, there’s no reason why the Warriors couldn’t make a run at that top seed in the conference.
With Phoenix, Memphis, and Utah all rounding out the top four with Golden State, it could be difficult for the Warriors to win a 7-game series in which potentially 4 would have to be on the road.
The Warriors should be able to do enough to catch Phoenix, but they’ll need some luck and a dynamic Stephen Curry over the last 20-plus games to do so.