In response to the embarrassment of being spanked in public by the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, the Warriors are making a rational adjustment.
They’re lowering their ambition. Again.
Favorable position in the Western Conference play-in tournament is the new goal. With 10 games left on the schedule, the Warriors are in unfavorable 10th place, which would translate to the lowest play-in berth, with seventh being the most favorable.
“That’s clearly the goal,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday after practice. “Going into (Tuesday) night’s game, we had our sights set on six. Losing that game, it’s unrealistic to think now that we can get to that spot. Seventh is realistic, but we’re going to have to play really well.”
The Warriors opened the season hoping to get as high the No. 4 seed, ensuring homecourt advantage in the first round. Failing to find consistency and spending the season in the lower portion of the Western Conference standings, the goal dropped to No. 6 before midseason.
It remained there until Tuesday, when the sixth-place Mavericks came into Chase Center and kicked the Warriors all over the court in a 133-103 loss. Dallas brought an intensity that left the Warriors in tatters and dropped them back to .500 at 31-31.
To rise from 10th to seventh, the Warriors will have to reach their peak over the last 10 games. At no point have they won eight of 10, and that’s probably what they’ll need to do.
That was the message Kerr delivered to the team on Wednesday.
“I told them that this morning, that the playoffs, they start now,” Kerr said. “These next 10 games are all playoff games in my mind.
“We gotta try to, No. 1, qualify for the play-in. And, No. 2, put ourselves in the best position possible. If we could get to seven and have two home games to win one, that would be ideal. In order to get that done, it starts now.”
Of Golden State’s final 10 games, seven are against teams with losing records. Three are against the 11th-place New Orleans Pelicans (27-34). The last six games are at home, with the finale against the Memphis Grizzlies, who at 31-29 entered Wednesday in eighth place.
“Everybody probably feels like each game is going to be a must-win,” Kevon Looney said. “Each game feels like it’s the most important game of the season. We’ve got to approach it like that. We’ve got to be sharp and we’ve got to be real detailed.
“This is probably my first time in my career with the Warriors that the last 10 games of the season are this important.”