By Huey Bergstrom
(SAN FRANCISCO) The Warriors return to the city by the Bay for their final six games of the season tied for the eighth seed in the conference with their postseason chances resting mostly on the shoulders of their 33-year-old point guard.
Well, after a number of ankle twists and ACL tears the Warriors are sitting at .500 with their final week of games at the Chase Center and a chance to get into the postseason.
Under the NBA's new rules, the seventh and eighth seeds will play, and the winner of that game will play the winner of the ninth and tenth seed game to determine which team advances in the playoffs. Thank god it's straightforward.
In all seriousness, the new postseason rule adds an extra flair to this otherwise strange NBA season. Despite it being shorter, somehow this season felt longer. Not entirely in a bad way but it seemed like Curry's magical April would never end.
Speaking of Curry's magic on the court, the best chance the Warriors have at getting to that seventh seed, which they currently trail Portland three games for, is with another Curry explosion like the one in April. While it seems unlikely now, Warriors fans have seen much weirder things happen over the course of this season. Like Andrew Wiggins shooting nearly 40% from three.
But regardless, this season has been up and down for the Warriors, to say the least. A litany of injures, early to Klay Thompson, then to Eric Paschall, later to rookie James Wiseman and then even later to slasher Kelly Oubre Jr., have really hurt their chances at a postseason run. However, they still have a good chance to make it to the postseason and from there, anything can happen.
Looking toward the future a bit more, the 33-year-old superstar is at a strange point in his career, where, for the first time since he was a rookie, his team needs to rebuild. Not an entire overhaul like what the Cavaliers do every two years but a roster adjustment to be sure. Whether Oubre Jr. comes back has yet to be seen but if so, he makes an excellent addition behind Thompson. Wiggins has shown he can play well when he needs to and will bolster any lineup, bench or otherwise. Wiseman showed a lot of promise before the injury and will be the centerpiece of any rebuild moving forward.
The Warriors still have time to get another championship before Curry's out of his prime but that window is closing. To be a real championship contender they need to stay healthy and get back some of the defensive intensity they missed this season. The future is bright for this Warriors team but it's unclear how long it'll stay that way.
As for this season, Curry understands the pressure and knows the moment well. He'll likely step up as he's done in the past, but if Golden State wants that seventh seed they'll need that high level of production from Wiggins on offense and the stat-stuffing Draymond Green to do what he does best on defense.
Over the past few games, Green has shown an intensity that fans haven't really seen this season and, if the Warriors hope to catch the Trailblazers, he'll need to keep that up.
Golden State will host the subpar Thunder Thursday night at the Chase Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. PST.