Every team has peaks and valleys through an unnecessarily long trek of a thing in the NBA we call the regular season. Now 71 games in, the Golden State Warriors postseason standing essentially reminds us of how good this team has been, hasn't been and might not become. They are currently slotted in the sixth seed, snuggled tightly between the Portland Trail Blazers at five (tied in the loss column) and the Memphis Grizzlies at seven (1.5 games ahead of them). While the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks are jostling for the final couple seeds, the first four seem entrenched between the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, and Houston Rockets. Which team should the Warriors worry about?
Without diving too much into the head-to-head statistical analysis and matchup - nobody wants to read that many words on something so hypothetical - here's a quick glance at what could happen against likely Warriors opponents.
Aside: With the Blazers 3.5 games behind the Rockets, it doesn't appear that they can catch them, making a 5 vs 4 seed matchup against the Warriors highly unlikely.
If the Warriors leapfrog the Blazers and the Rockets hold steady, we get to see the matchup against one of the two teams the Warriors seem to despite most in the Western Conference.
Most believe, and accurately so, that Dwight Howard in the middle and Patrick Beverley - noted Curry stopper - puts a strain on the Warriors already mediocre offense. Toss in the combination of Houston's three-point shooting and James Harden's awesomeness makes this the toughest opponent.
However, Andrew Bogut isn't going to post up 10 times a game and David Lee isn't going to force shots up (hah, we hope) in the paint, anyway. If we assume the Warriors are to bomb away similar to last year's playoffs, it lessens Howard's impact defensively. Throw in Andre Iguodala's defense on Harden and this is much less intimidating than at first glance.
Warriors Twitter Excerpts: Chandler Parsons sure has great hair. Harden flops more than Chris Paul! Dwight has no post moves. Does Brian Scalabrine coach to analytics as much as the Rockets? Why aren't the Warriors --- trade Harrison Barnes for Donatas Motiejiunas! Is it too late to sign Royce White to a postseason roster spot?
Los Angeles Clippers
The likeliest opponent, this is the matchup if the regular season ended tonight. On one hand, the Clippers don't play much defense on the inside or outside. Jordan is a good defender but functioning as a big man who jumps at everything, he doesn't affect the game the same way (see: Howard). J.J. Redick (assuming health), Jared Dudley, Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, Darren Collison are all average to below-average defenders who are awaiting the evisceration handed down by Postseason Curry.
On the other hand, there is no Warrior alive in this decade or the one before, and the one before, that can handle Blake Griffin. Bogut won't go out to contest the wildly improving jump shot. David Lee has as much of a chance going blow for blow as I do trying to sneak a free meal in the media room. Draymond Green is plenty feisty but he needs about three inches and thirty pounds to push Griffin back. Throw in Paul's late-game heroics and this is a series going seven, filled with faux fights and mean words.
Warriors Twitter Excerpts: Blake Griffin has a really punchy face. Draymond Green agrees. Stop fouling Crawford in his shooting motion! There goes Klay going all Mickael Pietrus again. If Curry got as many calls as Paul did... Are Mark Jackson and Doc Rivers similar coaches? Draymond! Steve Blake is tailor-made for this series. Should we ban Hack-A-Bogut/Jordan? How about tanking? Was there apple pie at the pregame service both teams decided not to go to? The crust is the best part.
Oklahoma City Thunder
If, and when, the Grizzlies catch the Warriors (could do so as quickly as this week if Memphis wins two more of their games, including one at Oracle), the Warriors would slip to seventh, facing the second-seeded Thunder.
The Warriors have the length and wing players to hassle Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant a bit. If Thabo Sefolosha isn't ready to play by the first round, expect Curry and Klay Thompson to wreak havoc on a sloppy Thunder perimeter defense. However, the Thunder will have a dude named Durant. He's pretty good and one would assume that he's not going to lose in the first round after his first MVP campaign.
Warriors Twitter Excerpts: Kevin Durant is a bad, bad man. Also, Russell Westbrook.
San Antonio Spurs
Nope, not even going to attempt to write about this one. Give me the Indiana Pacers instead. Give me All-Universe LeBron James. Give me both at once. I don't care. Haunting images of Kawhi Leonard erasing Klay, Danny Green enveloping a hobbled Curry have caused years of scar tissue I'll never be able to rid of.
Oh, what's that? Marco Belinelli coming off screens nailing those threes that Don Nelson promised would erase memories of Jason Richardson.
Or, in a twisting of the inevitably painful plot, Gregg Popovich rests his starters for the next round and still beats the Warriors with a unit of Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Robert Horry, and Bruce Bowen.
Yeah, we're done here.
Warriors Twitter Excerpts: Maybe Darren Erman is the next Pop?