The Golden State Warriors wrapped up the first half of their season by losing three games in a row and sit 19-18 going into the stretch drive.
The Dubs are currently in a position to get into the play-in tournament. The NBA will carry over the same postseason format from the 2020 campaign, with the top-six seeds in each conference guaranteed to play at least one seven-game series.
Teams that finish between Nos. 7 and 10 will face-off in a mini-series to see who advances to the first-round.
Golden State was up-and-down through the first half. The team was awful defensively to start the season but has turned things around as the chemistry between the players continued to develop.
The Warriors now sit in the top-six in both defensive rating and opponents’ field-goal percentage. If they can get some more consistent scoring behind Stephen Curry, the Dubs should be able to climb up to one of the six spots.
Golden State has played the 13th most difficult schedule to date and has managed to stay above .500, despite missing Draymond Green, James Wiseman and Kevon Looney for stretches this season.
The Warriors’ second-half schedule will provide an opportunity to move up the standings. Currently, the Dubs have the 19th toughest remaining strength of schedule, but it should get easier after their first three games following the All-Star break.
Golden State’s first three opponents are the L.A. Clippers, Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. Following the murderer’s row of matchups, the Warriors will play 21 out of their remaining 32 games against teams that are sitting outside of the top eight in their respective conferences.
Schedule-makers also did the team a favor by setting up a six-game homestand for Golden State to close out the season. If the Warriors are in a logjam for playoff seeding going into the final two weeks, playing six in a row at the Chase Center will be hugely beneficial. An added bonus is that there is hope some fans will be allowed into the arena by then.
The Dubs might not be at the level of the elite NBA teams, but they have enough talent to make some noise in the playoffs. Curry’s presence is the primary reason the Warriors could scare some higher-seeded opponents during the postseason. The entire basketball world knows Steph can go off for 40 on any given night, and having to stop him during a seven-game series will be a daunting task for any team.
Golden State is within striking distance of the fifth-seed in the west but will need to have at least two extended winning streaks to move up.
There are two keys for the Dubs over the final two months of the schedule: Offense and health.
The Warriors’ bench hasn’t been able to provide consistent scoring when Curry is off the floor. Head coach Steve Kerr has tried various combinations during the first six minutes of the second and fourth quarters but hasn’t found a rotation that works.
Kelly Oubre Jr. is finding his footing after an abysmal start and could be given some more time with the second unit. Andrew Wiggins has been good defensively, but his offensive output has suffered in recent weeks. He shot just 44.9 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from 3 and averaged 16.1 points during the month of February.
The other big-factor will be health. Curry and Green missed Thursday’s loss to the Suns to get some extra rest before the break, but if either of them gets sidelined for an extended period, the Dubs will slip further back in the standings.
What would you like to see from the Warriors during the second half of the schedule? Where do you think they will end up finishing in the Western Conference standings?