Remember the good ol’ days, Warriors fans? When the Dubs were predicted to finish first in the Western Conference every year … and then they actually finished first in the Western Conference every year?
Well, the Warriors are back with the rest of the pack now, looking up to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at the top of the conference. According to a panel of six ESPN Insiders, the Warriors are expected to finish with an even 36-36 record as the West’s No. 9 seed.
The NBA will feature a new playoff system that will pit the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds against each other for a play-in game, and the No. 9 and No. 10 seeds against each other for a play-in game. The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will face the winner of the Nine-Ten game to earn the No. 8 seed in each conference.
Got all that?
In essence, it means the Warriors would have to win a pair of play-in games just to make it to the playoffs if they finish where the ESPN panel projects. The panel predicted the No. 7 Phoenix Suns (40-32), No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans (36-36) and No. 10 Memphis Grizzlies (33-39) to join Golden State in its hypothetical Western Conference play-in games.
This concept of a play-in tourney seems a bit foreign, but I’ll trust Adam Silver with pretty much anything at this point after the NBA pulled off the bubble so effectively. Also, an extra three playoff games wouldn’t hurt the league coffers.
At this point, if the Warriors can finish in the top six of another stacked Western Conference, it should be considered a success. Avoiding the play-in games and resting up for a few days before the playoffs has to be the goal for Golden State in 2020-21.