The Golden State Warriors loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday was disappointing for a million and one reasons. They lost the momentum they had gained during their recent winning streak. The issues that looked to potentially be in the rearview mirror once again plagued them.
But more than anything else, the loss hurt because the Dubs dropped a very important game in the standings to a team that’s directly behind them.
With only a handful of games remaining, it’s a good time to take a look at where the Warriors — and the rest of the teams in the mix — stand. And things are still, absolutely wild.
Take a look:
You’re not reading that wrong. Only four games separate the home court advantage of the fourth seed and not just missing the playoffs, but being the second team out.
It’s true madness.
The Warriors justifiably still have their eyes on being the fourth seed. They also are deeply in danger of falling into the play-in tournament, and likely need to win a chunk of games to avoid falling out of that, too.
Let’s take a closer look at the eight teams that are jockeying for position with the Warriors.
The Suns are cold, having gone 4-6 in their last 10 games. But given that Kevin Durant is about to return, and that five of their remaining eight games are at home — not to mention that they’re already at the top of this crowded field — they have to be considered the favorites to finish with the fourth seed.
The Suns beat the Warriors 3-1 this season, so they own the tiebreaker should the teams finish with the same record.
The Clippers are 6-4 in their last 10 games, but they’re just 2-3 in their last five ... which includes losses to two teams they’re battling in the standings, as well as the cellar-dwelling Orlando Magic. Health and rhythm have evaded LA this year, but they still are in relatively good shape. Their schedule for the final two weeks of the season is very difficult, though.
The Warriors and Clippers split their four-game series this year. The Clippers have been much better within the Pacific Division, though, so they should win the tiebreaker.
The Wolves, who just got Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards back, are only 5-5 in their last 10 games, but they’re riding a three-game winning streak (though they’ve won those three games by just a combined 10 points). If they can click, they could challenge any of the teams above them and grab an assured playoff spot.
The Warriors and Wolves split their four-game series this year. The next tiebreaker would likely be conference play, where the Wolves (26-20) have a slight edge over the Dubs (25-21). Yet another reason why Sunday’s loss was so massive.
It’s safe to say that the Pelicans would have escaped this grouping had they been healthy. But Brandon Ingram has missed 37 games and Zion Williamson has missed 45, so here New Orleans is. They’re 6-4 in their last 10 games, but they’re on a four-game winning streak, which included a road beatdown of the Clippers on Saturday. Ingram is healthy and back in the fold, with NOLA optimistic that Williamson might return for the final two or three games of the regular season.
The Pelicans lead the season series with the Warriors 2-1, with the final game taking place Tuesday night in San Francisco. If New Orleans wins, they win the tiebreaker. If Golden State wins, it will likely go to conference play, where things are very close (the Warriors are 25-21, the Pelicans are 25-20).
The Lakers have been making a run lately, but they’re still hot and cold. They’re 6-4 in their last 10 games, but just lost on Sunday, at home, by double-digits, to the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James is back though, so you really can’t count the Lakers out of any game. But the rest of their schedule is rough, as they’re about to embark on a five-game road trip before ending the year with two tough games at home against the Suns and the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers won the season series against the Warriors 3-1, so they hold the tiebreaker.
OKC has been one of the biggest surprises this season, and they’ve gone 6-4 in their last 10 games, and 9-4 in their last 13. They’ve got a pair of very winnable games coming up, as their next two are at home against the lottery-bound Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons.
The Warriors lead the season series against the Thunder 2-1, with the final game coming on April 4 at Chase Center. The Warriors are likely to win the tiebreaker, as a win in that game would do it, and if not, they have a sizable lead in conference play, 25-21 to 23-25.
The Mavericks are free-falling. They’re just 3-7 in their last 10 games, they’re 7-13 since Kyrie Irving first donned a Dallas jersey, and they’re in the midst of a four-game slide that just ended with back-to-back losses to the Hornets of all teams. It doesn’t get any easier for them, either, as their next four games are on the road.
The Warriors won the season series with the Mavs 2-1, so Golden State holds the tiebreaker.
After shocking the entire league by jumping out to a 12-6 start in a year that was designed for tanking, the Jazz have settled back into their expected role, and gone just 23-33 since. They’re 4-6 in their last 10 games, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and have a tough schedule to end the season. They’re still in it, but only barely.
The Warriors won the season series against the Jazz 2-1 this year, so the Dubs have the tiebreaker.
All things considered, the Warriors are in a good position to avoid the play-in tournament and stay in the playoffs, perhaps even as the fourth or fifth seed. They have six games remaining: home contests against the Pelicans, Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs, and road games against the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trail Blazers.