Andrew Bogut

Warriors still have shot to catch Blazers in Western Conference playoff race

por gsw

We flew Virgin America to Los Angeles yesterday evening, which meant I was able to the beginning of the Warriors’ 102-69 thrashing of the Kings on CSN Bay Area. I would’ve liked to watch the entire game, but watching the first quarter and a half on TV and following the rest on my phone was enough to get the gist. Without Isaiah Thomas or anything to play for, Sacramento is terrible.

Getting clowned on Twitter by a guy like Mo Speights — who’s been playing well lately, but still — is pretty embarrassing from the Kings’ perspective. But that’s one of the many problems they’ll have several months (and a high draft pick) to fix. As for the Warriors (47-29), they’re almost guaranteed a postseason berth now. And while it’s not altogether likely, if they run the table they can overtake the Portland Trail Blazers (49-28).

If they can pull it off, the Warriors would move to fifth place in the Western Conference and set up a postseason series against the Houston Rockets. Sure, Warriors vs. Clippers would provide the most in the way of first round entertainment and animosity, but facing the Rockets without Patrick Beverley and a gimpy Dwight Howard (who’s missed seven of the team’s last nine games with an ankle injury) would present a more favorable matchup.

Neither Golden State nor Portland lead their respective divisions, so head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker. The Warriors currently lead the season series 2-1, with one game left to play on April 13 … in Portland.

Golden State could be at full strength by then, but that’s not guaranteed based on what Mark Jackson said about Andrew Bogut and David Lee after last night’s win.

“Neither guy has done anything with the team on the floor,” said Jackson. “And we’re not going to rush them.”

Even without two of their starters, they should win their next three games — at home against Utah tomorrow and Denver on Thursday, and at L.A. against the fighting Bazemores on Friday.

The Suns beat the Blazers 109-93 last night in Portland, as Eric Bledsoe and Gerald Green combined for 26 points in a fourth quarter where Phoenix outscored Portland 30-13. So it’s not like the Blazers are unbeatable at the Rose Garden (or whatever they call it now). They have a 27-10 record at home, and they’re 9-6 over their last 15 home games.

The Warriors are 22-16 on the road. However, they’ve already dropped games at home to Denver and Minnesota this season, and in order to move up in the standings they’ll need to beat Denver twice and Minnesota once.

Warriors remaining schedule:

  • 4/6/14 vs. Jazz (24-52)
  • 4/10/14 vs. Nuggets (33-43)
  • 4/11/14 @ Lakers (25-51)
  • 4/13/14 @ Blazers (49-28)
  • 4/14/14 vs. Timberwolves (38-37)
  • 4/16/14 @ Nuggets (33-43)

Blazers remaining schedule:

  • 4/6/14 vs. Pelicans (32-44)
  • 4/9/14 vs. Kings (27-49)
  • 4/11/14 @ Jazz (24-52)
  • 4/13/14 vs. Warriors (47-29)
  • 4/16/14 vs. Clippers (54-23)

Portland’s last game could be very interesting. If the Clippers’ own playoff spot (currently third) isn’t in jeopardy, they could choose to rest their key players. However, if the Clippers are in a position where a win would put them against the Blazers in the first round and a loss could set them up to face the Warriors, they might put a little extra effort into that final game. No one would rather face Golden State instead of Portland in a playoff series if they could help it, especially since the Warriors (16-7) have played better than the Blazers (13-11) since the All-Star Break.

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