Warriors

Steph says Warriors still know how to be playoff underdogs

Warriors
Warriors' Steph Curry

The Warriors aren't in an entirely unfamiliar position heading into the NBA play-in tournament.

If they emerge unscathed and qualify for the NBA playoffs, they'll enter the postseason as the seventh or eighth seed in the Western Conference. Golden State hasn't started a first-round playoff series away from home since 2014, losing a seven-game series to the Los Angeles Clippers that year.

In the previous postseason, the sixth-seeded Warriors upset the Denver Nuggets in six games in the first round. Golden State then lost to the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs in six games in the second. The few remaining Warriors from those teams will have to rely on that experience if Golden State makes the playoffs.

"We might have to channel some 2013, '14 kind of vibes," Steph Curry told reporters Monday in a video conference following the Warriors' 119-116 win over the Utah Jazz at Chase Center. "We were just coming on the scene as the new, up-and-coming playoff-type team. I know we've been there. I can kind of remember what it's like when nobody's probably gonna pick you in the series and whatnot -- we gotta get there first. We're not too far removed from that to not remember what it feels like and just come out swinging."

Curry, Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore are the only Warriors on the roster who played for Golden State during the 2013 and '14 playoffs. Green and Bazemore played far smaller roles than they do now, with the latter barely leaving the bench.

 

The trio has accumulated plenty of experience since then, of course. Curry and Green won three championships and made five trips to the NBA Finals with the Warriors' dynasty, while Bazemore played increasingly big minutes each round in the Atlanta Hawks' run to the 2015 Eastern Conference finals.

Kevon Looney's playoff-tested, too, but the same can't be said about the rest of the Warriors' roster. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins have combined to play in just three playoff series, while Mychal Mulder, Jordan Poole, Juan Toscano-Anderson and the injured Eric Paschall have never played in an NBA postseason.

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The Warriors will have the best player (Curry) in a first-round series against the top-seeded Jazz or second-seeded Phoenix Suns, and he's going to be more experienced than just about anyone else who touches the floor. During that first-round series with the Nuggets eight years ago, Curry nearly averaged a double-double (24.3 points and 9.3 assists per game) in Golden State's upset.

Will that mindset, combined with the lessons Curry has learned in nearly a decade since, be enough for the Warriors to repeat history and advance as underdogs?

If you ask the two-time NBA MVP and his teammates, they'll probably say, "We believe."

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