Just before taking off on their final road trip of the season, the Warriors were poised to make a push for the sixth seed in the Western Conference, which would have allowed them to avoid the play-in tournament.
But they lost an excruciating game to the Dallas Mavericks. Then dropped the next to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It became clear that the sixth spot was out of reach. After going 2-1 over their last three games, the Warriors won't fall out of the play-in tournament. With six games left, the Warriors are tied for eighth with Memphis Grizzlies and still are in a position to move up -- or solidify themselves in the eighth spot for themselves.
The Warriors returned to the Bay Area on Tuesday night and now have a six-game homestand to close out the regular season. Home games don't guarantee anything, but it's a much more favorable way to close out the season -- especially with the teams they have coming in.
"We have to have the mentality that our backs are against the wall and it's kind of do or die," Juan Toscano-Anderson said. "It's kind of like yes or yes. There is no other option, regardless if we were on the road or at home these last six games. But, the fact that we are at home, we definitely need to take advantage of that opportunity ... We got our fans there, we'll be able to rest tomorrow ... we've got to win these games."
The Warriors start their final six games with a back-to-back series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Next, they welcome the two best teams in the West: the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Golden State then closes the season by facing the New Orleans Pelicans again, and then the Grizzlies.
The two games against the Thunder can be penciled in as Warriors wins. Only a major accident should keep them from taking those games. The Warriors also need to take their final game against the Pelicans.
The games against the Jazz and the Suns are the only games during this stretch the Warriors should feel OK about dropping. Obviously, if Golden State can grab one of them, do it. The Grizzlies and Warriors will be battling for the same spot in the play-in tournament, so by the time they play each other on May 16, that could very well be the deciding game. The Warriors need to set themselves up for that as best they can.
"Six games at home to finish the season is nice. That is kind of a trap, though," Steph Curry said. "You can let your foot off the gas because you're comfortable being at home, seeing our families. You're in familiar territory and you got to stay locked in mentally on the task at hand to finish out the season strong."
The Warriors currently are one game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, who occupy the 10th spot, and are three-and-a-half games behind the Portland Trail Blazers for seventh.
As we know by now, the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th seeds of each conference will have a spot in the play-in tournament. But tying up either the seventh or eighth seed has clear advantages.
Those two seeds play each other in the first round of the tournament, and the winner automatically has a spot in the playoffs. The winner of that game is the only team in the play-in that gets to play just one game.
After the seventh and eighth seeds play, the loser has to play the winner of the nine and 10-seed matchup, with the loser being eliminated. The nine and 10-seed game loser also will go home.
"We got to win these games," Toscano-Anderson said. "Everybody in our locker room wants to be in the playoffs ... We just got to win these games, get some momentum going and come together and be ready. Right now is the best time to have momentum going into the postseason."