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The Warriors path to the NBA Finals is set

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The seeds are finalized. Who does Golden State have to beat to repeat as champs?

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season is over, which means the seeding for the 2019 NBA Playoffs is officially set. As such, we now know the path the Golden State Warriors have to take if they are to make it to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals.

Here’s how the seeding shaped up out West:

1. Golden State Warriors
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Portland Trail Blazers
4. Houston Rockets
5. Utah Jazz
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. San Antonio Spurs
8. Los Angeles Clippers

The Warriors will face the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs.

In the second round, they’ll take on either the Jazz or the Rockets.

Who they would then meet in the Conference Finals is up in the air, though the Nuggets and Thunder are likely considered favorites.

Ultimately, things broke perfectly for the Warriors. They got the first round matchup they wanted - against a fellow California team, so they won’t have to travel much.

Just as importantly, the Jazz and Rockets match up in the first round. Utah and Houston have been the best non-Warriors teams in the West this year, with the Jazz finishing with the league’s third-best net rating, the Rockets with the league’s fifth-best rating, per Cleaning The Glass.

Had Houston finished with the second or third seed, Golden State would have been in line to face the Jazz in round two, and the Rockets in the Conference Finals. Now they only have to play one of those teams.

Just as importantly, they’ll play that team relatively early, before what figures to be an easier Conference Finals. That could potentially serve as a rest period before the NBA Finals in June.

These are all “ifs”, of course. The Warriors still need to actually win those games.

But they have to be pretty stoked about how the standings filled in.