The Golden State Warriors entered the All-Star break with a steep mountain to climb in order to secure the NBA’s best record. Yet, the door is still open for a last-second sprint to the top.
It will take quite a bit of work. The Phoneix Suns hold a 6.5 game lead over the Warriors and have been the league’s hottest team for months now. However, with Chris Paul set to miss multiple weeks with a hand injury, Golden State should be eyeing the first seed.
The Golden State Warriors have some heavy lifting to do if they want to secure the best record in the West but it is still feasible.
In December, Golden State was neck and neck with Phoenix for the top seed. It wasn’t until dropping back-to-back games to start the new year that the Warriors began slipping in the standings.
The Warriors hold the NBA’s 11th best record since January at 15-10. Meanwhile, the Suns have hit stride at 21-2.
The climb back
Making up for this deficit will not be easy. But, the Dubs have an advantage — Klay Thompson has returned while Draymond Green and James Wiseman are on the horizon. A late-season surge is certainly on the table.
As for the Suns, an extended time without Paul could cause complications. They haven’t been without him much since he joined the team in 2020, going 2-0 last season in his brief absence. Thus far this season, Paul has not missed a game.
We do know this: CP3 makes the Suns better. Phoenix has a Net Rating of 10.7 with Paul versus 4.2 without him. Is this enough for the Warriors to swoop in and reclaim homecourt advantage? Maybe.
Staying above everyone else
Regardless, the Warriors do not want to fall deeper into the standings, as they have been. The fall to the bottom is roughly the same distance as the road to the top.
Golden State has a 1.5 game lead over the third-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and a 5.5 game lead over the fourth-seeded Utah Jazz.
Falling to third or fourth would give the Warriors a tougher path to the NBA Finals and cost them the opportunity to hold homecourt advantage each series (except for a potential matchup with Phoenix.
Above all else, the Warriors have every reason to ramp up aggression and attempt to peak at just the right moment. They should be taking this post-All-Star break stretch seriously.