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With less than 20 games left in the regular season, contending teams are turning up the heat as they shift their focus towards the playoffs. Early records from the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns had many fans thinking that the West was destined to be a two-team race. The Suns were able to continue this momentum into the regular season, while the Warriors fluctuated from title contenders to title pretenders during stretches of it.
Golden State currently holds the second seed in the West and trails Phoenix by 7.5 games. Although an injury to Chris Paul prior to the All-Star Break had some thinking that the one-seed was now vulnerable, the Warriors recent struggles kept them from capitalizing on this opportunity. This leads to the latest SBN Reacts survey which has less than half of NBA fans thinking the Warriors can overtake the top spot from the Suns:
With the Suns practically out of reach, the Warriors turn their attention towards maintaining the 2nd seed in the West. The Memphis Grizzlies trail the Dubs by half a game and are trending upwards through the inspired play of All-Star point guard Ja Morant. On the other hand, Golden State is in free-fall as injuries and lack of continuity have led them to lose 7 of their last 9 games.
Seeding becomes important when considering potential first round matchups. As things currently stand, the 2nd place Warriors would draw a matchup against one of the play-in teams which includes the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and New Orleans Pelicans. However, as the third seed, they would draw a matchup against the Denver Nuggets which, according to another SBN Reacts survey, is the team that Warriors fans least want to see in the first round:
This makes sense as MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic, is a matchup nightmare for Golden State and their smaller front court. In his two games against the Warriors this season, Jokic was dominant averaging 28.5 points, 18.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. The Nuggets could be even more dangerous with the news that injured point guard Jamaal Murray and forward Michael Porter Jr. could potentially return in time for the playoffs. Jokic is already playing elite without them, so having a full repertoire of talent around him would make this Denver team a very tough out in the first round.
After the Nuggets, the next teams are the Mavericks, Jazz, and Lakers with each of them bringing their own unique challenges to the Warriors. The Mavericks won the season series against the Dubs and their recent games against them had the Warriors struggling to find an answer for Luka Doncic. Although the Jazz may be underdogs in a playoff series against Golden State, Utah is that solid team that would force the Warriors into a long, hard fought series which could impact them down the line. Finally, there’s the Lakers, who may not look like much now, but a playoff team with a healthy LeBron James represents a threat anytime he is on the roster.
What do you think? Which teams represent the worst matchup for the Warriors in the first round? Let us know down below.
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