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Around the NBA: Four things that will impact the playoff race for the Warriors

This week, we look at four things around the NBA that will have a direct impact on the Warriors' quest for the title.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Cause & Effect - The process in which decisions and actions done by individuals or organizations affect those around them.

The NBA is an ecosystem, comprised of many different elements that are all in some way intertwined. Drop a stone in the water at one end of the association, and watch as that ripple becomes a wave that impacts different teams and organizations in myriad ways, good and bad.

Big decisions are coming up quickly: Waiver deadlines, the trade deadline, the All-Star break. The Warriors, by all practical account, will not be huge players in the trade deadline shopping spree. For all of those hoping that they will flip Jason Thompson and Mo Speights for Ryan Anderson, stop dreaming (wait, is that just me that wishes that? Sorry, my bad). The biggest effect the Warriors will have on the association is directly related to the whooping that they have been doing in the past few weeks. Teams will now look at their current roster and have to ask "Are we good enough right now to beat these guys?" Teams that possibly didn't consider a trade before will not be considering a trade again, thinking that they have to raise the bar even higher to knock off the champs.

This week we examine four things that will impact the Warriors come playoff time and come championship time. In reality, there are probably about 50. But, for the sake of conversation, lets take a look at the most pressing four:

Cause #1: Blake Griffin punches out his equipment manager

Oh Blake... you have a foot on the kid. I don't care if he slept with your mother #DelonteWest, those hands are your money maker. You might have just let one of the bros in your entourage rough him up. But no, instead you followed him outside, gave him some facial swelling, and cost yourself a month of prime basketball.

Effect on the Clippers: The scary part is that the Clippers play better ball, without Blake Griffin. Can they win a title without Blake? Probably not, but the reality is that they have no proof they can win one with him, either. The Clippers are too stubborn to trade Griffin for a better upgrade, so flipping him while he is healing is not the option (at least not during the season. But afterwards? Maybe). I think Doc the GM though is forced to make a bigger move for pieces around Blake & core with him out. The problem? They don't have assets outside of Lance Stevenson. They don't have draft picks. I think they overpay for a marginal improvement.

Effect on the Warriors: The Clippers might have a good record without Blake, but they have a decidedly worse record against top teams without Blake. This also causes Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan to play more minutes, which increases the chance of injury. The Clippers are arguably a good matchup against the Warriors (at least that's what Charles Barkley says). Anything that impacts the Clippers and makes them a worse/more fatigued team helps the Warriors in the long run.

Cause #2: Markieff Morris will be traded by the Suns to a contender

Say what you want about the largest asset that could potentially move at the trade deadline. Big names like Boogie Cousins probably won't move until after the season, but potential trades are fun to talk about. The biggest moves will be the middle-to-high level talent that improve a bench or add a role player that make a team deeper.

Effect on the Suns & other teams: Morris is a great player, a borderline All-Star in years past that can score and defend. The Suns are asking for a haul for him, and seem content on waiting out any potential partners until that partner becomes desperate to pony up for the asset. The Suns have no incentive to keep him until the offseason and want those draft picks and young players to assess the team, making him a lock to be moved. The Suns are bound to become younger - and possibly expand their rebuilding process by trading more young talent. A trade partner is going to get a better player, but also give up future pieces that will effect them.

Effect on the Warriors: After some consideration here, I believe there is more of a chance Morris goes to an Eastern Contender, and probably the Celtics. The C's have the assets in picks to get him, and he is the veteran scorer they need. This won't impact the Warriors directly, but it could be the Cavs over in the East will have a tougher eventual playoff matchup, which is good. The Warriors need the East to step up their game.-As we are fighting through the West, we can't have the Cavs walk their way to the Finals.

Cause #3: Tim Duncan gets an MRI on his Knee

Being a fan of the Warriors does not mean hoping or praying for injuries on other teams to make us better. We would rather beat other teams with their full squad so we don't have to hear excuses for years #WhenKyrieAndLoveAreHealthy. The joke was Tim Duncan sat during the first Warriors/Spurs matchup to hold him out, but in reality he might actually be hurting.

Effect on the Spurs: Rest and rehab for Duncan might be a relative term. The Spurs could shut him down for a month, and still go on beating lesser teams. The key for them is having him ready when it comes to playoff time. Why push the vet when you don't need to? Would this motivate the Spurs to pick up an extra player for the stretch run to give them depth? Maybe it triggers a contingency plan that would make them consider giving up a young asset for a support piece? It also means more minutes on older bodies like David West and Manu Ginobili to cover Tim's minutes.

Effect on the Warriors: The Spurs will keep winning games. But without Tim Duncan, maybe they lose a few more than they had planned. I truly believe the winner of a Spurs/Warriors matchup is that who has the home court. If Tim being out means the Warriors further solidify the #1 seed, so be it.

Cause #4: Atlanta trades Jeff Teague, Utah trades Gordon Hayward

A trade is brewing between middle-of-the-road teams. Utah believes they need a better point guard (and they kinda do). They also believe Gordon Hayward is not a long-term solution (which he really isn't). Atlanta believes that they have two starting point guards, and to unclog the jam, will be making a trade. But for what?

Effect on the Hawks: The Hawks are currently the 4th seed in the East. Any improvement to that team would be huge as they try to break through past Chicago to catch Toronto for the 2nd seed. They are looking for starters in return, and Gordon Hayward would mean a big scorer for them in a role he is probably more suited to play.

Effect on the Jazz: The Jazz are currently in the 9th spot. The trade discussed does not make them immediately better. Hayward is a big scorer for them, but Teague would be a long-term improvement with Favors and Gobert and Hood. The Jazz are close, but might feel that an 8th spot in the playoffs does more to hurt them long term or help. This might be a mini-rebuild with eyes for next season.

Effect on the Warriors: The Jazz are a hard matchup for the Warriors with their big front line. Facing them in the first round and getting beat up would not be ideal. I believe they would rather see Portland or Sacramento in the first round. Also, if the Hawks improve to become a better contender, again this means more pressure on the Cavs.

Other Tidbits & Final Thoughts

There are many other events that could cause direct effect to the Warriors down the stretch. With too many to name, we touch on a few of them along with some final thoughts for the week:

  • The farther the Magic fall in the standings, the cheaper Channing Frye could become for the Warriors. He is the dream stretch-five off the bench
  • Kevon Looney's improvement would mean more playing time for the rookie with the team. This could lessen the need for a trade to save our own assets
  • Festus Ezeli's knee doesn't look good. Let's hope the MRI went well. He is doubtful for the east coast trip, but rest might be good for the big guy. This could also effect his long-term contract status if he can't prove his continued health.
  • Cavs v Spurs should be a great matchup on Saturday night. I wonder though if the Spurs beat the Cavs by 30 again if Cleveland will have any coaches left to fire?
  • The more I look at this trade deadline, the more I think it will be a dud. Expiring contracts don't mean the same as the cap is going up. Teams don't want long term money so they can invest shot term. Overpaying for free agents will mean the draft and extra picks have even more value. This deadline has more potential to be a Garry Harris to the Hornets type deadline than a Carmelo to the Knicks type one if you see what I mean.

The Warriors head to the East coast for the weekend to take on the Sixers and Knicks. I worry about that Knicks matchup at the Garden... Kristaps is for real, and never bet against the Knicks at home. For our sake, lets hope Klay/Curry/Draymond get some rest soon as they won't be getting while they are in Toronto for the ASG #WinningTeamProblems.

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