Never Back Down GSW Edition: Season Forecast

My friends and I always have an ongoing discussion via email on the current state of our Warriors, and my buddy wrote up this insightful forecast piece which I am posting here with his permission. He tried to keep it as objective as possible. What are your thoughts?

As we all know, the Warriors are once again fighting just to make the playoffs. Currently, we're locked in a three-way tussle with Dallas and Denver for the 7th and 8th spots. I'm just going to give a quick and shallow breakdown of each team's remaining schedules, as well as the potential tiebreakers, that could affect the race.

Standings as of 3.28.08

    W     L     GB     GL     HGL     RGL     SOS
Dallas     45     27     -     10     4     6     52.17%
Golden State     44     27     0.5     11     5     6     52.29%
Denver     44     28     1.0     10     5     5     51.33%

Where GL = games left, HGL = home games left, etc., and SOS = Strength of Schedule

Remaining Schedules

    * Dallas's Remaining Schedule

Date     Opp     W     L
03/30/08     @GS     44     27
03/31/08     @LAC     21     50
04/02/08     GS     44     27
04/04/08     @LAL     49     23
04/06/08     @Pho     47     24
04/08/08     Sea     17     55
04/10/08     Utah     47     25
04/12/08     @Port     38     35
04/13/08     @Sea     17     55
04/16/08     NO     49     21

    * Golden State's Remaining Schedule

Date     Opp     W     L
03/29/08     @Den     44     28
03/30/08     Dal     45     27
04/01/08     @SA     49     23
04/02/08     @Dal     45     27
04/04/08     @Mem     18     53
04/06/08     @NO     49     21
04/08/08     Sac     32     39
04/10/08     Den     44     28
04/12/08     LAC     21     50
04/14/08     @Pho     47     24
04/16/08     Sea     17     55

    * Denver's Remaining Schedule

Date     Opp     W     L
03/29/08     GS     44     27
03/31/08     @Pho     47     24
04/01/08     Pho     47     24
04/05/08     Sac     32     39
04/06/08     @Sea     17     55
04/08/08     @LAC     21     50
04/10/08     @GS     44     27
04/12/08     @Utah     47     25
04/13/08     Hou     49     23
04/16/08     Mem     18     53

Golden State has the roughest schedule down the stretch by any measurable statistic. We play 7 more games against the top 9 WC teams (2 at home, 5 on the road), while Dallas and Denver have 6 each (both have 3 at home and 3 on the road). Golden State's remaining strength of schedule is also the highest of the three. But, keep in mind that we also have an extra game to play than either team.

Golden State's toughest stretch is going to be the upcoming 4 games in 5 night gauntlet, all against the WC9. Considering we're playing Dallas x2 and Denver once, we have to go atleast 2-2 to stay on pace. If we sweep this weekend's back-2-back, than we will have a small cushion for the Texas 2-step next week.

Dallas has a similarly tough stretch next week, when they play against the Warriors, at LAL, and at Phoenix in a 5 day stretch. If Dirk's gone as expected for the next 2 weeks, than an 0-3 skid, which is highly possible, would put Dallas in a huge hole.

With respects to Denver, they're toughest stretch is going to be over the next few days. They're currently in the midst of 4 straight games against the WC9 (they beat Dallas last night), and they're getting healthy at just the right time (Nene returned last night from his bout with cancer and is back to guard Shaq/Amare). They also have a tough 3 game stretch at the end of their schedule, but I'm skeptical of Utah and Houston having a lot to play for in that last week.

Tie Breakers (If you don't like bad news, than just skip this section)
Lastly, there's a good chance that two of these teams, or even all three, end up tied at the end of the season. Let's go over the tiebreakers now so we're not surprised about this later.

    * For clarification on settling ties between two and three teams, please read the link:
          o The biggest thing to point out is that since none of the three teams are in the same division, divisional record is not considered as part of the tie-breaker.

    vs Dallas     vs Golden State     vs Denver     Conference

    W     L     GR     W     L     GR     W     L     GR     W     L     GR
Dallas     0     0     0     2     0     2     1     2     0     27     15     10
Golden State     0     2     2     0     0     0     1     1     2     24     17     11
Denver     2     1     0     1     1     2     0     0     0     25     17     10

The following has been determined:

    * Dallas has the tiebreaker over GS (Since the Warriors, at best, can only tie Dallas in head to head competition; Dallas ends up with a better conference record).
    * Denver has the tiebreaker over Dallas (Won head to head 2-1)

And the rest:

    * Denver has the edge over GS. If Denver manages to go 1-1 vs the Warriors, than they will win the tiebreaker as they are guaranteed a better conference record.
    * With regards to a three-way tie, there's too many games to be played between the 3 teams to actually bother breaking it down. Regardless, if a 3 way tie happened right now, it would go Denver = 7, Dallas = 8, GS = out.

Conclusion (in bullet format)

    * Pros
          o We control our destiny. With 4 games left against Denver and Dallas, we have the chance to decide who makes it and who doesn't.
                + If we go 4-0, I'd put our chances at 95%+ to make the playoffs.
                + Similarly, if we go 3-1, I'd put our chances at ~70-75%.
          o We did this last year, when we went 9-1 over our last 10 games to squeak into the playoffs. Dallas has never been in this position before, fighting for their playoff lives. It would be kind of ironic if Golden State could knock Dallas out of the playoffs two years in a row, under two vastly different circumstances.
          o Dirk's out for an undetermined amount of time, and possibly for both GS meetings. This can't be understated enough. Dallas is not a WC playoff contender without Dirk.
    * Cons
          o We have the toughest remaining schedule left.
          o We have the least going for us in terms of tiebreakers.
          o Hollinger, who uses a simulated model to determine each team's chances of making the playoffs, has us in 9th place:
                + His model's updated daily and it's kind of fun to see how quickly a team's chances fluctuates after just one game.
                + Hollinger's model doesn't account for injuries (specifically Dirk's).

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!

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