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sport / / NBCSBA: Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surge

o NBCSBA: Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surgeRobin Miller

NBCSBA: Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surge


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From: robin.mi...@invalid.invalid (Robin Miller)
Subject: NBCSBA: Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surge
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2024 15:17:39 -0400
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 by: Robin Miller - Mon, 25 Mar 2024 19:17 UTC

Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surge

By Michael Wagaman

• Published March 24, 2024

The Warriors have spent the past month or so talking about their belief
that they could make a major move up in the Western Conference
standings, possibly getting as high as a No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

As it stands now, however, Golden State’s primary concern has to be just
making it to the NBA playoffs, period, after the team's 114-110 loss to
the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday at Target Center. The Warriors’
hold on the 10th and final spot in the West is tenuous at best, with the
suddenly red-hot Houston Rockets sitting one game back.

It’s a position few saw coming for the four-time NBA champions, but one
in which Golden State is firmly entrenched – a fringe team trying to
hold on by a thread as each loss pushes them closer and closer to

“We’re surprised that we’re here, but we still feel like we’re capable
of being anybody,” Stephen Curry told reporters after Sunday's loss,
trying to keep a positive outlook. “It’s a very competitive landscape
and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out, but we
want to be in that fight.”

It definitely won’t be easy.

The West is more top-heavy than it has been in recent seasons, with six
teams guaranteed of finishing with a record above .500.

The Warriors, at 36-34, need to win at least half of their final 12
regular-season games to join that group. The last time they won more
than five games of a 12-game stretch was when they went 8-4 from Feb. 15
to March 11.

So, the possibility of salvaging the season and making the playoffs is
still out there.

But judging by the Warriors’ last two games, those hopes are slim at
best. It might be easy for someone to win the Mega Millions lottery
estimated to be worth more than $1 billion than it is for the Warriors
to get into the postseason.

“We lose a lot of games we should win,” Draymond Green said. “In this
league, you have to win the games [that] you’re supposed to win and
steal a few that you’re not supposed to win. But if you lose the ones
you’re supposed to win, you’re in for a long year.”

Even though Minnesota is third in the West, Green felt that Sunday’s
game was one the Warriors should have won.

Two days after a complete disaster in losing to the Indiana Pacers,
Golden State came out strong against the Timberwolves and played with a
significantly higher level of energy, both offensively and defensively.

They weren’t able to sustain that the entire game, however, surrendering
68 points and wilting in the second half.

Coach Steve Kerr, who has tried to remain positive even as the season
started spiraling, said he was much more pleased with the way the
Warriors played in the loss to Minnesota as opposed what he saw against

“The habits were much improved tonight, the defensive focus, the
energy,” Kerr said. “I’m confident if we compete and play like that in
these last 12 games that we’re going to put ourselves in position to do

Curry agreed, but with the results being the same – a frustrating and
potentially devastating L – the Warriors need more.

“The NBA is such a weird league. It just takes one little spark to get
yourself going,” Curry said. “Every team goes through it in a season.
You see what Houston’s doing right now. They got one little spark and
they ran off whatever it is, eight, nine in a row. We’re capable of
doing it until we run out of games. That’s the mindset.”

The Rockets definitely did take their spark and run with it. Houston has
won eight straight and nine of 10 heading into Monday’s game against the
Portland Trail Blazers.

That, coupled with the Warriors’ struggles to close teams out, has
thrust the Rockets right back into the playoff conversation.

The Warriors, who play at Houston on April 4, also still are in the chat
about playoffs, but it’s getting more difficult for them to make a
legitimate argument when the losses keep piling up.

“When you have to win and you don’t, it sucks,” Green said. “In order to
win, you have to build good habits. I don’t think we have great habits.
Until you play with the great habits at all times, you lose.”

Asked whether he’s keeping an eye on the standings and what the Rockets
are doing, Green responded emphatically.

“I don’t give a damn about the Rockets,” he said.

That’s probably a good thing. The Warriors’ only concerns right now
should be themselves and how to fix what’s not working.

sport / / NBCSBA: Warriors' playoff hopes tenuous as red-hot Rockets surge


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