Basketball

Is it Panic Time in Golden State?

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Golden State has seen better days, to say the least. With seven games to play Golden State may lose its home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs as they narrowly hold a 1.5 and 2.5 game lead on Dallas and Utah, respectively.

They’re 2-7 since Draymond Green returned to the lineup and although Stephen Curry hasn’t been suiting up, the Warriors are in a rut that’s lasted the better part of the last two months. This team was playing its best ball around Christmas… that was over three months ago. The Warriors are 10-15 since the beginning of February and as the postseason arrives in the next few weeks, there’s not a ton of time for Golden State to get their act together.

With the funk that the Warriors are in and Curry’s return still somewhat in question, it’s absolutely time to hit the panic button.

“Getting Hot”

You hear this much less in the NBA due to the way the postseason is set up, but in sports you’ll often hear the phrase, “get hot”, around playoff time.

For example, every year in the NCAA tournament we hear about how a certain team got “hot” and rode that momentum into a deep tournament run. Another example would be the Eli Manning-led New York Giants when they won the Super Bowl back in 2008. But those leagues have one thing in common – their postseason is a one game elimination tournament. It’s much harder to catch fire for a seven game series than it is in a survive and advance atmosphere.

Is it at all realistic to think that Golden State can catch lightning in a bottle right before the playoffs begin?

There’s about a handful of guys in this league that can really change your fortunes as a franchise and the Warriors have one of them – a man by the name of Stephen Curry. Although, I’m not convinced that anyone can get this ship righted in time for a playoff run.

Curry last played on March 16, meaning that it’ll be about a full month’s absence if and when he does return for the beginning of the playoffs. Many of us view Curry as some superhuman, and rightfully so, but is it fair to expect him to go into that superhuman mode of his after he hasn’t touched a ball all that often the month leading up to the playoffs?

There’s no predicting what a guy like Curry can accomplish but the chances that he can put this team on his back and get them through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference feels like it gets slimmer by the day. Golden State has been a relative disaster post-all star break. From Curry’s injury to Wiggins’ lackluster play to Andre Iguodola’s beef with the front office, this mess might just be a little too big to clean up in time for the postseason.

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A turnaround isn’t impossible but things are murky out here in the Bay Area right now.

Is Home Court a Big Deal?

The answer to the question above is both yes and no. The Warriors don’t need home court advantage but it’ll say quite a bit about this team if they let it slip out of their hands. It’ll show that maybe this team isn’t who we thought they were back in December.

The Warriors are 19-18 on the road this season and while that’s not dominate by any means, they don’t really have an issue performing away from San Francisco. Simply for the morale of the locker room heading into the postseason, Golden State needs to string together some wins down the stretch and secure home court in round one. Not to mention, they boast a 29-9 record this season at the extraordinary Chase Center, plus the Warriors faithful is one of the rowdiest home crowds in the league.

While their record over the last few months isn’t great, this isn’t really about a win-loss record. Rather, it has everything to do with how they’re playing. Losing close games is one thing, but getting blown out, like last nights 123-95 loss in Memphis, is much tougher to swallow.

If Golden State were to lose their grasp on home court advantage to start the playoffs and slide down to the #5 seed, it would mean they dropped five or six of their last seven games. You never want to end the regular season with bad vibes like that, and no, three or four wins in the next two weeks won’t right the ship, but closing out the season relatively strong would be a step in the right direction, even if it’s a baby step.

What’s the Answer?

Quite frankly, I’m not sure there is an answer. The hope is that Green and the rest of the Warriors can get the ship headed in the right direction as the season comes to an end and that Curry can lead them through the turbulent waters of the postseason but time is running out and that may just do them in.

It’d be out of the ordinary for a team to end the season as badly as Golden State is and be able to pull of a run in the playoffs.

Health wise, this team was somehow the most healthy to start the season. Ever since Klay Thompson’s return in early January, Golden State has had just about everyone in and out of the lineup, which has opened up more opportunities for the youth on the roster but it’s tough to win in this league to begin with, let alone when you constantly have players in and out of the lineup.

When Golden State went to five straight NBA Finals, their chemistry was essential to their success. This Warriors team doesn’t have the same look and feel that those Warriors teams had. It looked like the foundation was there in November and December but it’s slowly evaporated over the course of the season and unless the basketball gods answer the prayers coming out of the Chase Center, the Warriors are going to be the last man standing in a game of musical chairs.


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