Entering as the 3rd seed
Our first scenario assumes the Warriors finish the season in third place of the West. In this case, they will likely face the Denver Nuggets in round one and the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round, should they advance.
A first round meeting with the reigning MVP is not one the Warriors will be thrilled about. It doesn’t help that Kevon Looney is their only big man capable of matching Nikola Jokic’s size and physicality.
What’s more, the pending return of Jamal Murray poses a real threat. Murray’s dynamic scoring and playmaking next to Jokic is a real concern for the Western Conference.
Nevertheless, Golden State is in a good position to gameplan for anything. Their personnel, while undersized, is as versatile as any team in the NBA. Forwards like Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter, Andre Iguodala and Jonathan Kuminga will be able to blitz and contain Jokic.
This places a ton of responsibility on the Nuggets’ role players — who probably don’t have enough juice to match the Dubs’ firepower. Round one will be a challenge but Golden State has the clear upper hand.
Round two gets more interesting. The Memphis Grizzlies have been the NBA’s most surprising team and they have the depth to push Golden State to the brink. Not to mention, this young team already delivered a backbreaking blow to the Dubs last season in the Play-In.
Confidence will be no issue for Ja Morant and the Grizz. They can lock up defensively, shoot the 3-pointer and attack the paint as good as anybody. Golden State won’t have any notable advantages other than experience and a top-heavy roster with three superstars.
The key here is simple, will Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green be playing like it’s 2016? If so, the Dubs can punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. If not, the possibility for Jordan Poole to continue breaking out as a star and carrying some of the load is enough to keep the Dubs in a favorable position.