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sport / / BANG: Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale

o BANG: Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finaleAllen

BANG: Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale


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From: (Allen)
Subject: BANG: Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2024 19:10:52 -0700
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 by: Allen - Sun, 14 Apr 2024 02:10 UTC

Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale
What's at stake for the Warriors in their last regular season game
>Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) is guarded by New Orleans
Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III (25), Friday, April 12, 2024, at Chase Center
in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Danny Emerman is a Bay Area News Group sports reporter
By DANNY EMERMAN | | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: April 13, 2024 at 6:05 a.m. | UPDATED: April 13, 2024 at 7:57

At multiple points in the past couple weeks, the Warriors have peered
through a window into the top of the play-in bracket, only for it to
quickly slam shut.

Steve Kerr admitted that losing in Dallas at the buzzer on April 5
“shifted things” for the Warriors. But even after that defeat, Golden
State ripped off three straight wins to once again have the inside track
at the eighth seed.

A victory over the Pelicans on Friday night would’ve put the Warriors in
pole position for the eighth seed — a coveted outcome because they’d
have two chances to win one game. Instead, New Orleans hit 20 of their
38 attempts from 3-point land to darken the mood again at 1 Warriors Way.

“It stings a lot,” Klay Thompson said of the loss that fractions their
chances at avoiding the 9/10 play-in round.

Entering the regular season finale, the new reality is much more
calcified for the Warriors. To escape the lower tier play-in round, they
must beat the Jazz and get help via losses from both the Lakers and Kings.

That long-shot scenario — gives it a 5% chance to
occur — begins with the Warriors playing an actual basketball game
against Utah in the Chase Center on Sunday afternoon. The Warriors won’t
know their exact seeding fate before tipoff, but it seems like they’ll
be operating as if they don’t care. When asked if he’d be resting
players in the regular season finale, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr
tipped his hand.

“Oh, hell yeah,” Kerr said.

Even though the Warriors still have an outside chance at that eighth
seed, their priorities have shifted once again.

“I mean, you prefer to stay at home, but if you look at what we’re
facing, it’s a gauntlet,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to play two play-in
games, and if you can win those two, then you’ve got a Game 1 48 hours
after that. I’m much more interested in our ability to be ready for next
week. But we’ve got to wait and see how everything shakes out.”

The Warriors have essentially a coin-flip chance at either the ninth or
10th seed, per If they’re the 10th seed, they’ll have
to beat either the Kings or Lakers on the road to earn the right to
travel to whoever lost the upper tier play-in matchup. It would be two
games in three days, with transit in the middle.

That, or some variation of it, is the gauntlet Kerr alluded to. It’s the
main reason why getting veterans rest in the finale will take priority.

The Warriors rested Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on Thursday night
in Portland, but they could always use an extra day. Thompson has
recovered from two catastrophic leg injuries. Green has been banged up
with back soreness this year and takes physical punishment nightly as
the Warriors’ best interior defender. They’re both 34.

“It’s not the worst thing in the world, considering we’ve played a
hectic schedule this last month with a ton of travel,” Thompson said.
“It wouldn’t be the worst thing.”

Thompson has played 76 games this year — his most since the season
before his torn ACL — which he takes immense pride in. The Warriors will
almost certainly reward his durability with a Sunday afternoon off. Same
goes for Green.

Steph Curry, too, will quite possibly sit out the regular season finale.
Even if he continues to deny that he’s fatigued, as he has all year, the
signs are there. His 2,421 minutes are his highest total since the
2016-17 season, when he was 28 years old. His shooting splits were
significantly down in March, a month in which he also suffered an ankle
sprain. He just played a combined 68 minutes in a back-to-back.

Kerr has said one indicator he gives credence to when it comes to
Curry’s fatigue is his decision-making. Against New Orleans on Friday
night, Curry matched his season-high with seven turnovers.

“We’ll assess where everybody is tomorrow and the next day, decide who
to play (Sunday),” Kerr said. “But the back-to-back — last night was a
tough game, I think Steph played 36 minutes. It’s a lot at 36 years old.
And every game we’ve played has been a playoff game in the last couple

Curry rested last week against the Jazz, in a game the Warriors won
easily. They’ve already proven they can beat the Jazz without Curry, and
will probably test that again.

If Curry, Thompson and Green sit, might Chris Paul also join the street
clothes crew? The 38-year-old is fresh, having played a career-low 26
minutes per game and missed six weeks with a fractured hand. But like
Thompson said, an extra day off probably can’t hurt.

Three years ago, the Warriors got their first and only taste of the
play-in round their gearing up for now. That season, they finished on a
tear, winning eight of their last nine games to secure the eighth seed.

If the Warriors beat the lowly Jazz Sunday, they’ll have finished the
season winners of 10 of their last 12.

The 2020-21 Warriors lost the 7/8 play-in game to the Lakers. Then they
fell to the Grizzlies in overtime to end their season before they could
even play a real series.

Kurtenbach: An unstoppable big man hit the the Warriors with a
serious reality check
Pelicans shoot down Warriors’ hopes of escaping lowest play-in round
Pair of key Warriors sidelined for pivotal Pelicans matchup
No matter how season ends, Golden State Warriors made a step in the
right direction
Warriors take over the No. 9 seed: Here’s how the NBA’s play-in
picture looks

“We’ve been through it, with the ‘21 season,” Curry said. “We understand
it feels like a Game 7 kind of experience. Every possession is
heightened, because if you lose, you know what the circumstances are.”

No matter how strong a team finishes, or how rested they are, the
play-in format is unforgiven. Win-or-go-home games are just that: one
team heads home.

“We just want to get to a playoff series,” Curry said. “How we can get
there, how we can get it done — there’s a lot of confidence we can beat
anybody on any given night. And we have to hold onto that, because one
game Sunday, then it’s do-or-die.”

sport / / BANG: Game 82: How Warriors are approaching regular season finale


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