Through 28 games, the Warriors have been nothing special. Steph Curry has been otherworldly, but the Warriors as a collective have been average.
Following Monday night's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors now sit at 15-13, in eighth place in the Western Conference. Golden State has not won or lost three games in a row this season. They have been, by definition, average.
With nine games remaining until the NBA All-Star break, Steve Kerr and the Warriors have a clear mission to accomplish before they hit the midseason vacation.
"I think it's in many ways, this next stretch is our chance to prove to people that we're more than just a .500 team," Kerr said after the win vs. the Cavs. "We haven't proven that through 28 games. We haven't won more than two games in a row. It's our chance to show that we can string together wins starting Wednesday with a really good Miami team that's coming in healthy and playing well. They are a team that's going to make you play well to beat them. So this is an exciting stretch here."
Of the Warriors' remaining nine games, six of them come against Eastern Conference teams with a .500 record or worse. Golden State will face the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Charlotte Hornets (twice), New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers before ending the first half with contests against the Anthony Davis-less Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns.
It's an absolutely vital stretch for a team that has failed to build and maintain positive momentum this season. If the Warriors can rack up wins against beatable opponents, they could enter the All-Star break in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture instead of locked in the play-in tournament conversation.
If the Warriors want to prove they are more than the Curry fireworks show and should be taken seriously in the playoff conversation, stringing together wins against the Magic, Hornets and Knicks is absolutely essential.
The path to the All-Star break, and potentially out of the wilderness known as mediocrity, begins Wednesday night when the Warriors host the Heat at Chase Center.