Warriors playoff hopes dealt major blow after rival secures crucial comeback victory

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors
Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Golden State Warriors hopes of a playoff spot were dealt a blow on Wednesday, with a win for the Phoenix Suns diminishing the franchise's hopes of a top eight-seed by the end of the regular season.

A 134-120 win over the Lakers on Tuesday had raised the possibility of the Warriors passing the Suns in the standings by week's end, yet that has quickly gone out the door given it required Phoenix losing their final three games.

The Golden State Warriors now have only one pathway to a top eight seed with three games remaining in their regular season

Golden State have put themselves at the mercy of other results and that's exactly what happened on Wednesday night. On paper the Suns visit to face the Clippers was a tricky one, but in reality the hosts had nothing to play for and therefore rested/managed all of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell and Ivica Zubac, while Terrence Mann was limited to eight total minutes.

In credit to the extremely short-handed Clippers, they battled hard and even had a six-point lead with eight minutes to play. Bones Hyland had a career-high 37 points but class ultimately prevailed as Devin Booker's 37 of his own helped the Suns to a 124-108 victory.

It means the Warriors only have one path to the eighth-seed, with a significant focus on Thursday's matchup between the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans at Golden 1 Center. If the Kings lose then Golden State will be hoping they go on to lose at least one of their final two games, while a Pelicans loss means Warrior fans will be aspiring for New Orleans to lose their last two games.

This is under the assumption that Golden State win their final three games -- a possible but far from certain scenario. The potentially positive news is that they face the Pelicans at Chase Center on Friday -- if the Kings win on Thursday and the Warriors take care of business, it would require the Lakers to win in New Orleans on the final day of the regular season.

The importance of reaching the eight-seed can't be understated, as summarized by veteran forward Draymond Green following Tuesday night's win over the Lakers.

"The biggest difference (between the eight and nine) is you get an extra game to win two, which is a big deal. If we can get the eight, that’s incredible. You would love two swings, two bites of the apple."

Draymond Green

The Warriors face the Trail Blazers in Portland on Thursday and host the Pelicans on Friday, before concluding their season with another matchup against the Utah Jazz at home on Sunday.