SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors won’t know until Sunday whether they will finish the regular season as a top-six seed in the Western Conference or participate in the play-in tournament. But either way, the team is confident they’re finally making their move.
“I don’t see a team that can beat us in a seven-game streak if we’re healthy,” said Klay Thompson.
The Warriors have won seven of their last nine games, including a 22-point win over the undermanned Sacramento Kings on Friday night. The Warriors are on the verge of reuniting their entire roster and are just one win away from avoiding the play-in.
Thompson added that despite a tumultuous regular season, the team can play at a higher level. The main area for improvement is to focus on a full game as much as possible.
In their 119-97 win over the Kings on Friday, “carefree” was the word used to describe Sacramento’s run in the second quarter. After building a 32-16 lead in the first quarter, a series of costly turnovers (the Warriors finished with 24) and a 3-point barrage from the Kings reduced the Warriors’ 17-point lead to five by halftime.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr warned ahead of the game that there was “no excuse” for his team to let go of vigilance.
Donte DiVincenzo said Kerr told the Warriors at halftime, “You guys know what’s at stake. You will pick that up in the second half.”
“That’s a message we needed to hear,” DiVincenzo said. “But we shouldn’t have to turn it around at half-time. We’re a good enough team. We can be a great team. We just have to start like that.”
Carelessness was also an issue following the Warriors’ setback in Denver earlier this week and their loss to Minnesota the week before.
“We’ve always been a team that lives on the edge,” said Kerr. “We’re a little wild, a little chaotic, but we’ve thrived in that chaos for many years. We just can’t cross the line. … It is up to us. We have it in us. But the focus, the attention to detail, everything has to be there.”
DiVincenzo admitted that with so many teams resting key players in the final stretch of the regular season, it’s easy to look back at past games. That probably happened against the Nuggets, who were without Nikola Jokic.
Sacramento rested Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk.
Portland’s injury report for its Saturday game against the LA Clippers lists nine players as absent, including Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant and Anfernee Simons. The Blazers are eliminated from the postseason.
This should be a contest the Warriors can easily win despite their road troubles this season.
According to Thompson, the three main pillars they need to focus on are appreciation of the ball, not settling for bad shots, and communicating on defense.
“If we can do that, we’ll be in a great position to repeat it,” he said.
But before it goes back-to-back titles, the Warriors need a win over Portland to secure a place no lower than 6th. If the Clippers lose either their Saturday game against the Trail Blazers or their Sunday game against the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors could climb to the 5-seed.
However, if the Warriors lose on Sunday and the Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans win, Golden State could fall back into the play-in.
“It’s a good issue for us — we can control our own destiny,” DiVincenzo said. “We just go in and try to win the game and we get what we want. And what we want is not to be in that play-in game.”