Game 82. Warriors need one more win to avoid play-in
Plenty to keep an eye on for last day
At this point in the story arc, everyone knows who the Golden State Warriors are. Led by the combined fire and firepower embodied by the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the decorated veterans are about to launch into defending their championship crown. And yet, even now, I’m not entirely sure what to expect out of this squad.
Greatness? Sure expect that - but also know that anything can happen.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (43-38) at Portland Trail Blazers (33-48)
WHEN: Sunday, April 9th, 2023 // 12:30pm PST
Must win (to avoid the play-in tournament)
Golden State comes into this game tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for fifth in the wide open Western Conference. If all goes well today and the Warriors beat the tanking Blazers, then it would assure a finish in either 5th or 6th. There’s some uncertainty here because of how tight everything is, but if the Warriors take care of business it would keep them out of the play-in. Depending on what happens with the Clippers today, the Warriors would end up in fifth - which would put them in a first-round series against the Suns - or sixth (which leads to Mike Brown’s Sacramento Kings).
A loss today could easily bump the Warriors all the way down into the play-in tournament - a single-elimination hellscape of basketball purgatory that could spell doom for the inconsistent Warriors. Of course, because of how crazy the NBA landscape is, the Warriors could lose, and still end up in sixth.
It’s all very convoluted, but as best as I can tell, here are the permutations to watch out for today:
GSW will be the No. 5 seed with a win and a LAC loss.
GSW will be the No. 6 seed with a win and a LAC win.
GSW will be the No. 6 seed with a loss, a LAL loss and: 1) a MIN win or 2) a NOP win and a LAC win.
GSW will be the No. 7 seed with a loss and: 1) a MIN and a LAL win or 2) a NOP win, a LAL loss and a LAC win.
GSW will be the No. 8 seed with a loss, a NOP win and a LAL win.
Of course, Golden State could lose today, but given the stakes, and the status of the Blazers, it would be an ugly, ugly outcome. It’s still relatively new to the NBA landscape, so here’s a quick refresher on how the play in tournament works. Bottom line is that sixth or better is the goal.
Helping the cause, Portland is tanking. Hard.
Losers of 14 of their last 16 games, the Blazers are playing without Dame Lillard and actively courting more losses. Hopefully the Warriors can oblige!
Don’t look too close at it, but Golden State is secretly heating up at the right time. The defending champs have won seven of their last nine games. They’ve re-added super vibe defensive ace, Gary Payton II and are on the cusp of seeing the triumphant return of Andrew Wiggins - who was a massive boost in last year’s playoffs.
While a loss doesn’t exactly spell the end of the line or anything, the Warriors do control their destiny to an extent today - but they must pick up this win for maximum assurance.
I’ve got a bunch of family stuff today, so it feels weird knowing I’m likely going to miss most of this game. But the Warriors know what to do. Just win. Put a successful bookend on the end of the regular season!! Dubs win, and then turn their focus towards getting Wiggins back in the mix just in time for the playoffs. It was messy, but the finish line is here!