The Warriors have reached the homestretch of this weird, truncated NBA season played amid a global pandemic exactly where they started it five months ago in Brooklyn: At . 500.
After Tuesday night's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Warriors return to the Bay, where they will play their final six games, at 33-33 and tied for eighth place in the Western Conference.
While there won't be any championship parade in the Bay Area this year, the Warriors still are focused on making it out of the play-in tournament and into the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The championship aspirations aren't there, but there still are a few things Warriors fans should be rooting for during the final leg of the regular season.
Eye on the prize
With six games left, the Warriors are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed and are three-and-a-half games back of the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 7 seed.
Grabbing the No. 7 or No. 8 seed is important entering the play-in tournament as the seventh and eighth place teams will play each other to open the affair with the winner earning the No. 7 seed in the first round of the playoffs. The loser of that game would then play the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup with the winner getting the No. 8 seed and a date with the top seed in the first round.
Earning either the seven or eight spot will give the Warriors their greatest chance to advance to the playoffs. If they fall into the No. 9 or No. 10 spot then they could be an off night from Steph Curry away from being shown the door quickly.
Here are the remaining schedules for the Warriors, Blazers, Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks:
Mavericks (current seed: No. 5): vs. Brooklyn Nets, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, at Cavaliers, at Grizzlies, vs. Pelicans, vs. Toronto Raptors, at Minnesota Timberwolves Lakers (No. 6): at Los Angeles Clippers, at Blazers, vs. Phoenix Suns, vs. New York Knicks, vs. Houston Rockets, at Indiana Pacers, at Pelicans Blazers( No. 7): at Cavaliers, vs. Lakers, at Spurs, vs. Rockets, at Jazz, at Suns, vs. Denver Nuggets Warriors (No. 8): vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, vs. Thunder, vs. Jazz, vs. Suns, vs. Pelicans, vs. Grizzlies Grizzlies (No. 9): at Timberwolves, at Detroit Pistons, at Raptors, vs. Pelicans, vs. Mavericks, vs. Kings, vs. Kings, at Warriors Spurs (No. 10): at Jazz, at Kings, at Blazers, vs. Milwaukee Bucks, at Nets, at Knicks, vs. Suns, vs. Suns Pelicans (No. 11): at 76ers, at Charlotte Hornets, at Grizzlies, at Mavericks, at Warriors, vs. Lakers
The Warriors probably would prefer if the Lakers halted their slide and didn't end up in the play-in tournament, as a do-or-die game vs. LeBron James and Anthony Davis is an unenviable task. The Mavericks' schedule sets up nicely with two games against the Cavs and a season finale against Minnesota, so while Dallas going on a skid would be nice for the Warriors to have an outside shot at the No. 6 seed, it's likely the Mavs will end up in the No. 5 or No. 6 seed. The Warriors are two Lakers wins away from being mathematically eliminated from the No. 6 seed, so that dream is just about dead.
But it doesn't hurt to dream, right?
The Blazers, who currently hold a three-and-a-half game lead over the Warriors for that No. 7 seed, face a tough road against the Lakers, Jazz, Suns, Nuggets and Spurs. The Blazers have been in free fall of late and have struggled against good teams all season. The Warriors will want that trend to continue to give them the best hope of earning the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.
The Grizzlies, unfortunately, have a favorable road with games against the Timberwolves, Pistons, Raptors and two against the Kings. The Warriors will need to take care of business against the Thunder and Pelicans to set up a potential season-ending clash with the Grizzlies to decide who gets to play in the 7/8 matchup and whose season will be on the line in the 9/10 tilt.
If the Grizzlies stumble down the stretch that will bode well for the Warriors' chances of getting the desired seed.
Steph Curry has been playing at an otherworldly level this season and it's only right that the two-time MVP finish with something to show for his efforts.
There will be no championship, and while he'd get my vote, the MVP isn't happening based on the Warriors' record.
But Curry can win his second-career scoring title. He enters Wednesday's games with a 0.7 points per game lead on Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal.
Curry going off over the final six games -- I'm talking getting nuclear hot like the run he was on in April -- would both give the Warriors their best chance at moving up the standings and allow him to collect at least one accolade for his work this season.
If Curry enters the final game behind Beal, Steve Kerr and the Warriors should turn him loose -- ala Kobe Bryant in his final career game -- and let Steph flambee the Grizzlies his way en route to 50, 60, 70 or however many points it takes to secure the title.
As of Wednesday, the Timberwolves have the third-worst record in the NBA at 20-45. As you know, the Warriors own the rights to Minnesota's first-round pick should it be outside the top three.
Thanks to the flattened lottery odds, the three worst teams all have equal odds of earning one of the top three picks. With the third-worst record, the Timberwolves have a 52.8 percent chance of the pick landing between No. 4 and No. 6, which would be the best-case scenario for the Warriors.
But the Timberwolves have been playing better basketball of late, winning five of their last seven, and are just a half-game worse than the hard-tanking Thunder who have lost 18 of their last 19.
Should the Timberwolves finish with the fourth-worst record, they would only have a 42.4 percent chance of the pick landing in the four-to-six range and a 44.7 percent chance of it falling in the six-to-eight range. That's good but not optimal for the Warriors.
Those numbers get even worse if the Magic and/or Cavaliers, both of whom are just one game better than Minnesota, also pass the T-Wolves. If Minnesota ends up with the fifth-worst record they would have a 57.9 percent chance of their pick landing between No. 6 and No. 9, and only a 12.3 percent chance of it being No. 4 or No. 5.
So, plain and simple the Warriors need the Timberwolves to lose down the stretch in order to maximize their chances of collecting a high lottery pick that can net them the likes of Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green or Jonathan Kuminga.
Here are the remaining schedules for the teams in Tank-a-palooza (the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons appear locked for two of the three worst records):
Timberwolves: vs. Grizzlies, at Heat, at Magic, at Pistons, vs. Nuggets, vs. Celtics, vs. Mavs Thunder: at Warriors, at Warriors, at Kings, at Kings, vs. Jazz, vs. Clippers Cavs: vs. Blazers, at Mavs, vs. Mavs, vs. Pacers, vs. Celtics, at Wizards, at Nets Magic: vs. Celtics, at Hornets, vs. T-Wolves, at Bucks, at Hawks, at 76ers, at 76ers