In music, we often stick a coda at the end of a song - one last run through the chorus and bridge to signal the closing.
And so it is with this NBA season: the playoffs are set, the Golden State Warriors’ roster is mostly healthy (unlike the poor Utah Jazz), and so we play out the last two games with both eyes firmly set on the future.
Dubs are looking downright
Ok, I’ll admit it, the Dubs had me a little nervous there for a bit, until...
With their win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, the Golden State Warriors pushed their win streak to an NBA season-best 14 games. As they have done all season, the Warriors continue to display a powerful mix of high level top-tier talent, and a complete roster that is more than willing to play unselfishly. Much like Stephen Curry, the only reason the Warriors’ successful season isn’t getting more coverage is that we have come to expect this level of excellence night in and night out.
Golden State has its 50th 30-assist game of the season, joining the 1984-85 Lakers as the only teams to dish out 30+ assists in 50 games— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) April 9, 2017
We will have a lot more retrospective content on the season here at GSoM this week, but it’s hard to preview this second-to-last game without getting a bit nostalgic.
The Warriors will treat this game as a minor test run for the re-integration of Durant. In his post game comments after the Pels game, coach Kerr intimated that Klay Thompson may rest this game because, “He’s played a lot of minutes this year.” This would be the last game the Warriors rest players, as Kerr followed up to say that he expects to play everyone in the final game (on Wednesday) as a post season tune-up. Personally, I’d like to see Andre Iguodala get a rest game as well, but I trust Kerr and his staff to manage everything.
Along with Klay, expect Matt Barnes to miss the game — as well as the rest of the season. He has been an eye-opening contributor in KD’s absence, but after rolling his ankle on Saturday and wearing a walking boot on his way out of the stadium, it may be some time before he manages to get back on the court.
All indications are that Steph Curry will be back from his one game hiatus, and he is currently listed as “probable.” But given the roster that the Jazz will be fielding, I can’t imagine he’ll play a ton of minutes.
The Jazz are resting...well, pretty much everyone:
The Jazz have had a rough run with injuries this year, and yet still managed the 4th or 5th seed. It’s an impressive feat and just underscores how good they could be. The injuries put more pressure on Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, but that may actually have been a good thing, as they both had career years.
I don’t really know what to say about what’s left of the Jazz team. I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert... with absolutely nothing on the line, I think it’s pretty safe to say the Warriors should readily handle this game; but even safer to say that it doesn’t really matter if they don’t. The Jazz could push into the 4th seed with a strong finish (and some Clippers struggles) but they have to win out, which would include a victory over the Warriors on Monday plus another over the Spurs on Wednesday.
THE PLAYOFFS ARE SET!
The Warriors will be facing the Portland Trailblazers in the first round. A matchup that is ideal for travel schedules, but is sure to test the Warriors — especially if Nurkic is back at 100% as appears to be the case:
One week before his fractured right leg is scheduled to be re-evaluated, Jusuf Nurkic shot for about 10 minutes. Looked pain free. pic.twitter.com/bBnYKC8nfn— Jason Quick (@jwquick) April 7, 2017
In fact, the entire Western playoff race is pretty much locked up. Besides Warriors (1) and Blazers (8), we’ve got the San Antonio Spurs (2) and Memphis Grizzlies (7); Houston Rockets (3) and Oklahoma City Thunder (6), and then the Jazz and Clippers as the only series that isn’t locked yet. While it is clear that these two teams will play each other, the seeding is not yet set. Given the injury woes and remaining schedule, it seems that the Jazz are content to cede homecourt advantage to the Clippers in exchange for entering the post season as rested and healthy as possible.
Final playoff matchups and schedules will be announced on Wednesday. But you can see the preliminary picture here.
GSoM member BitJam wondered this in another article, and since I have the power, I’m going to float this out there as a poll:
When does the "Toaster Era" end?
This poll is closed
It ended when KD returned
As soon as Klay misses a game
When/If we lose our next game
No. Toaster Era never ends. Praise the toaster!