Why not having the No. 1 seed may not be a bad thing for the Warriors


Why not having the No. 1 seed may not be a bad thing for the Warriors

In each of the past three seasons the Warriors placed a high value on using the regular season to earn the No. 1 overall seed entering the playoffs. Given its specific value to them, that goal was both logical and meaningful.

We repeat: Was.

The odds are stacked against the Warriors because they’re going into the final four weeks shorthanded, beginning with Stephen Curry, and because Houston, with a virtual three-game lead, shows no sign of anything remotely resembling a slump.

Even if the Warriors were to somehow achieve the No. 1 seed, it would not wield the clout it had in the past. Oh, they’d like it because it means opening every series at home and any Game 7s would be in Oakland. But they also realize Oracle Arena doesn’t provide the sizable advantage it once did.

Oracle still can be imposing, particularly in the postseason, when Dub Nation sniffs the possibility of a championship and turns bloodthirsty. In rampaging to the title last spring, the Warriors were perfect (9-0) at home with an average win margin of 17 points.

Oracle was their safety net, and teams daring to venture in were demolished.

That they likely won’t have homecourt advantage throughout is not a death knell for the Warriors. Not even close. Should they finish behind the Rockets, they would have to travel to Houston to open the series if the two teams advance to the conference finals. Should they finish behind the Raptors, and the teams advance to the NBA Finals, the Warriors would have travel to Toronto to open the series.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a team that thrives on challenges and is experienced in making deep postseason runs -- unlike either Houston or Toronto.

The days of invulnerability at Oracle are over, at least temporarily and maybe for good. With eight games remaining, the Warriors are 26-7 at home. That sounds impressive until one considers they lost a total of nine regular-season home games over the three previous seasons.

More to the point, those losses have come against an odd variety of visiting teams -- from the excellent to the mediocre to teams so far down the standings they’d need a NASA telescope to see the top.

The Warriors’ practical invincibility at home began to fray when they lost to the Rockets, on opening night, after taking a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter. Twelve nights later, the Pistons came to Oakland and outscored the Warriors 49-30 over the final 16 minutes to win by eight.

The Kings won in Oakland. The Nuggets won by 15 in Oakland, the Hornets by 11, the Clippers by 19, the Thunder by 20.

The Warriors are on the brink of losing the homecourt advantage in the postseason because they found ways in the regular season to lose too many games in which they supposedly had exactly that.

They have eight more regular-season games at Oracle, the first coming Wednesday night against the Lakers, who have won eight of their last 10 and are 19-9 over their last 28 games.

Just as important, the Warriors have seven more road games on the schedule, including trips to Utah and Oklahoma City, two teams against whom they are a combined 2-3. They have two games against Indiana, home and away, and the surprising Pacers are the No. 3 seed in the East.

The Warriors aren’t inclined to surrender anything, nor should they. But they are nose-to-nose with a bleak reality.

They’ve been without Stephen Curry for at least four more games and don’t know when he’ll return. They’ve been without David West for three games and don’t know when he’ll be back. Draymond Green will sit Wednesday night with an achy shoulder unlikely to heal until the offseason. The ultra-reliable Klay Thompson is questionable Wednesday after spraining a thumb on Sunday.

For the first time in four seasons, the Warriors are not in position to be preoccupied with locking down a homecourt advantage that isn’t worth what it used to be.

They’re better off devoting themselves to getting ailing players healthy and keeping the healthy ones hearty enough to drop the hammer when the real season begins.

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.