OKLAHOMA CITY — The Warriors have maintained the position that once they’re healthy and full again, they’ll have no issue turning their game up another notch.
In fact, coach Steve Kerr reiterated that point the other day in pregame.
“We believe that if we are whole, we can beat anybody because we’ve proven it,” Kerr said Tuesday. “We proved that last year.”
But the Warriors have to make it to the postseason for that to happen. And with 16 games left and their playoff seeding in balance, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be around past the second week of April.
Golden State is tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the fifth seed in the Western Conference postseason running heading into Thursday’s highly anticipated rematch in Memphis against the Grizzlies. While a win could launch the Warriors into taking sole possession of the fifth spot in the standing, a loss could sink them down as far as eighth since the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks would have the same win percentage as the Warriors.
With how close the standings are, Klay Thompson has repeatedly stressed the importance after their last loss — a 137-128 defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday — the importance of staying present. With how important each of their final games are, they can’t focus beyond the task at hand.
“[As a team, the Warriors cannot be] thinking of the future and playing with great effort every single night,” he said. “I know since we’ve been through so much as a team, it’s easy to look ahead to the playoffs but there’s so much basketball in front of us. So for us, it’s just about staying present and enjoying every regular season game no matter how lethargic or tire you feel, it’s about pushing through that wall and giving it your all.”
Steph Curry echoed his fellow Splash Brother’s sentiment.
“We are not in a safe enough spot to” look ahead at the postseason, he said. “You just got to look at the standings and keep it real. We’ve got some tough opponents coming up… It’s way harder to do away from Chase and we obviously haven’t shown we can do that and like I said, we’re not in a safe spot in terms of the standings and where we’re at or just the vibe around how we’re playing. So we got to keep repeating that until you’re blue in the face and until we actually do it.”
The Warriors appeared to be turning the corner after an undefeated homestand without Andrew Wiggins (family matter) and Curry (leg injury.) In all five of those games, the Warriors shored up their defense, turning the intensity and focus up a notch, and held their opponents to 105 or less points.
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But with Curry back, Golden State hasn’t been able to find that same success on the road. They dropped the last two games, allowing the Lakers to score 113 on Sunday and the Thunder to drop 137 on Tuesday.
The Warriors have now dropped seven consecutive road games. They’re scheduled to play the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies on Thursday before returning to Chase Center to face the tall task of playing the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and Phoenix Suns on Monday. They’ll then hit the road fro a five-stop journey that will include regular season-finale stops in Memphis and Dallas.
Fans and pundits have been waiting all season long for the Warriors to go on what feels like an inevitable run. That hasn’t happened yet. Still, Curry said the team’s “confidence never wavers.
“It’s just frustrating at times when you can’t get it done and have something that says, ‘Yeah, we know how to win on the road with this particular team,” he said.