Hopefully you missed Sunday’s game, when the Golden State Warriors once again faltered on the road, losing a game to a Denver Nuggets squad that was resting Nikola Jokić. It sure would have been a nice game for the Dubs to win, and it sure would have made things look a lot nicer in the standings for them.
But they didn’t. And so here we are.
With a week left in the regular season, it’s time for another glance at the Western Conference standings, which remain in a ridiculous place.
Just look at this madness:
With the loss, the Warriors are, unfortunately, not completely in control of their own fate. More on that in a moment.
Let’s take a closer look at the standings. As a reminder, the Warriors — who are currently the No. 6 seed — have three games remaining: a Tuesday home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a Friday road game against the Sacramento Kings, and a Sunday road game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
No. 4 — Phoenix Suns (43-35)
The Warriors can all but say goodbye to the fourth seed. Sitting two and a half games behind Phoenix and not having the tiebreaker means the Warriors need to win their three remaining games and hope that Phoenix — which has welcomed Kevin Durant back into the fold — loses all of their four remaining games. Safe to say that won’t happen.
No. 5 — LA Clippers (41-38)
The Clippers and Warriors have the same record, but LA holds the tiebreaker. Which means that the Warriors need to do better than the Clippers over the final three games in order to leapfrog them: 3-0 to LA’s 2-1, 2-1 to LA’s 1-2, or 1-2 to LA’s 0-3.
LA’s final three games: Wednesday at home against the Los Angeles Lakers, Saturday at home against the Blazers, and Sunday on the road against the Suns.
No. 7 — Los Angeles Lakers (40-38)
Right now the only thing keeping the Warriors ahead of the Lakers — and out of the play-in tournament — is that Golden State has played more games than their Southern California rivals. The Lakers hold the tiebreaker, so if the teams finish with matching records, then Los Angeles will finish ahead of Golden State. In other words, if Warriors go 3-0, they need the Lakers to go 3-1. If the Warriors go 2-1, they need the Lakers to go 2-2. If the Warriors go 1-2, they need the Lakers to go 1-3. And if the Warriors don’t win again they need to just hang it up and try again next year.
The Lakers final four games: Tuesday at the Utah Jazz, Wednesday at the Clippers, Friday vs. the Suns, and Sunday vs. the Jazz.
No. 8 — New Orleans Pelicans (40-38)
Like the Lakers, the Pelicans are just half a game behind the Warriors due to having played fewer games. The teams split their season series, and the next tiebreaker should be conference play where NOLA (28-21) has a slight advantage over Golden State (27-22).
The Pelicans final four games: Tuesday vs. the Kings, Wednesday vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, Friday vs. the New York Knicks, and Sunday at the Minnesota Timberwolves.
No. 9 — Minnesota Timberwolves (39-40)
The Dubs are in good shape against the Wolves, as they’re up by two games. But Minnesota holds the tiebreaker, so the Warriors need to finish ahead of them. Going 2-1 guarantees that they finish ahead of Minny, and even if the Dubs just go 1-2, the Wolves would need to win out.
The Timberwolves final three games: Tuesday at the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday at the San Antonio Spurs, and Sunday vs. the Pelicans.
No. 10 — Oklahoma City Thunder (38-41)
The Warriors are guaranteed to finish ahead of the Thunder. At worst, Golden State could finish with the same record as OKC, but the tiebreaker would go to conference play, where the Warriors are already guaranteed to best the Thunder.
Long story short: the Warriors have work to do to stay out of the play-in tournament, and they’ll need a little help from their SoCal opposition. But good news: Andrew Wiggins is returning!
As a reminder, if the Warriors finish with the fifth seed, they’ll earn a guaranteed playoff spot where they’ll likely face the Suns. If they finish with the sixth seed, they’ll earn a guaranteed playoff spot where they’ll likely face the Kings. Anything worse and they head to the play-in tournament. In the play-in, the team that’s seventh hosts the team that’s eighth, with the winner earning the seventh seed, and a likely date with the Grizzlies. The loser faces the winner of the game between the teams that finish ninth and 10th, with the winner of that game earning the eighth seed, where they’ll likely face the Nuggets.