The Golden State Warriors came out of Dallas with one of their biggest wins of the season, capturing a much-needed tiebreaker and putting themselves in the sixth seed where, for the moment, they stand alone and out of the play-in picture. For all that has been said about their much-maligned road record, they secured two crucial back-to-back wins.
They’re not out of the woods just yet given they’ve still got eight games to go, and their hold on that six seed is precariously thin. However, five of their last eight games are at Chase Center, a place they’ve dominated at all season.
The Golden State Warriors prepare for a pivotal homestand, one where there they face two teams directly competing with them for final seeding.
The defending champions will host the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, and then the woeful San Antonio Spurs to close the homestand. Let’s preview each game-by-game quickly, focusing on the one that’s really important.
This game has no major seeding stake, besides the fact it’d be nice to win and increase their lead on the seven seed. The Sixers are an impressive 9-1 in their last 10 games with Joel Embiid firmly grabbing the lead as the MVP favorite. They’re a mere half-game behind the Celtics in the standings for the two seed, so it’s clear this game would be a massive boost for them as well as the Warriors.
Meanwhile Golden State, for all the talk about how close they are to the play-in, they’re equally as close to securing home court advantage in the first round and climbing to the four seed. They’re just a game back of the Phoenix Suns who control that fourth seed right now, and they play the third-seeded Kings next. If the Warriors take care of business against the Sixers at home, and the Suns lose to the Kings, Golden State would be tied with them for the fifth seed. As you can see, lots of shuffling is still left, and things change day-to-day.
This is by far the biggest game left on the schedule for the Warriors. For one, the Dubs are currently 2-1 in the season series against them and a win would give them that desperately needed tiebreaker. These two teams are also separated by just one game, so if Golden State lose that game, then Minnesota could potentially leapfrog them in the standings and kick the Warriors back into the play-in.
This game is interesting for another reason as well — Gary Payton II is set to make his much-anticipated return if all goes smoothly at Saturday’s practice. His return would be a major boost as they’ve been badly been missing point-of-attack defense since Andrew Wiggins has been out. He should give a boost to the offense as well in sparking fastbreaks and being a menace in transition. Getting Payton back should be a positive influence, and the team desperately needs reinforcements and bodies anyway. Couldn’t be a better or more important game for him to come back for.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been hovering around the play-in picture over the last few months and they’re currently sitting as the nine seed right now. They’re close to getting Zion Williamson back and healthy, which is sure to make them infinitely more dangerous. With Williamson, the Warriors should want no part of the randomness of facing a team like them, or the Los Angeles Lakers, in the play-in tournament.
San Antonio Spurs
This is by far the easiest game left on the Warriors’ schedule. The Spurs have been dismal all season and are in the Victor Wembanyana sweepstakes. If this game was on the road, maybe there would be the reason for the slightest concern of a letdown. But put simply this is a bad team, coming into Chase center, and it should be the most straightforward win to close.
The Warriors are in their stretch run. They’re getting healthier with the addition of Payton and are looking in great position for a playoff spot. Each of the last two seasons they’ve finished the season strong — whether that’s going 15-5 in their last 20 games in 2021, or ending on a five-game winning streak last year. They need to close these games out strong, secure much-needed tiebreakers, and get into the playoffs with a lot of momentum should they wish to complete their quest of back-to-back titles.