The Dubs are right in the thick of the play-in race but could move up the standings with a soft schedule down the stretch.
Stephen Curry returned after missing five games, and the Golden State Warriors got a much-needed win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday to improve to 23-24 on the season. The Dubs sit 10th in the Western Conference standings with 25 games left on the schedule.
There is no doubt that Golden State can’t afford to lose Curry to injury if it wants to at least get into the play-in round. The Warriors are 1-5 without Steph in the lineup this season and will need him every step of the way to get back into the postseason.
The good news is that the Dubs’ schedule is among the softest in the league. Golden State has the third-easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, which should bode well for its playoff hopes.
No one will mistake the Warriors for a championship contender, but how fun would it be to see Steph back in the playoffs? Curry has the ability to score 40 a game and steal a series on his own.
The Dubs will need rookie James Wiseman to continue to improve. Head coach Steve Kerr recently named the 20-year-old as his starting center for the rest of the season. Wiseman is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game over his last two outings and was used as the finish man on several alley-oops in the victory over the Bulls.
Golden State needs Wiseman to be more of a force on the glass. He’s averaging less than six boards a game on the season. The Dubs rank 26th in the NBA in rebounding and have given up the second-most second chance points out of any team.
Andrew Wiggins has been a pleasant surprise this season. He has improved his 3-point shooting, hitting on 39.7 percent of his attempts from deep, 5.6 percent better than his career average. Wiggins’ biggest contribution has come on the defensive end. He routinely guards the opposing team’s best player and leads the team in defensive win shares.
One of the biggest factors in how the Warriors will do down the stretch is the play of the bench. The “non-Curry” minutes have been an adventure for Kerr’s team. Sometimes the second unit looks like it could hang with some of the upper-echelon squads in the league, while at others, it looks like the worst in the NBA.
The emergence of Jordan Poole is looking like a big boost for the Dubs. The 21-year-old is averaging 18.5 points per game since being recalled from the G League in early March and ranks second on the team behind Curry in player impact estimate.
As mentioned, the schedule is favorable for Golden State, with 15 of their final 25 games coming against teams currently 10th or worse in their respective conferences. Even with the soft schedule, the Warriors look like the best they can do if they finish between the Nos. 7 and 10 seed in the Western Conference.
After the recent slide, the Dubs are 5.5 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, who hold the fifth and sixth seeds in the conference. The top-six teams are guaranteed at least one seven-game playoff series.
Portland is playing the third-toughest remaining strength of the schedule, so the Trail Blazers would be the likely target if Golden State can make a big jump up the standings.
It looks like at least a limited number of fans should be allowed to attend games at the Chase Center towards the end of the season. This gives the team some extra incentive to get into the postseason as it would allow ownership to recoup some of the losses they have incurred by playing in an empty arena.
On the court, it would be big for younger players like Wiseman, Poole and Nico Mannion some playoff experience as the Warriors gear up for another championship run with a healthy Klay Thompson next season.
What do you think the Warriors’ record will be over the final 25 games?