The Golden State Warriors have lost three of their last five games. Kevin Durant is sidelined with an MCL sprain. The San Antonio Spurs are 1.5 games back of the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed, with two more meetings against Golden State to go.
Knowing all this, might Warriors head coach Steve Kerr abandon pursuit of first place and start resting guys? At the very least, might he de-emphasize the importance of snagging the No. 1 seed, which, when looking at the Eastern Conference’s pecking order, would give the Warriors home-court advantage in every round of the playoffs in which they participate, including the NBA Finals?
Per USA Today‘s Sam Amick:
“We still want the number one seed,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose team will have played 17 of its last 24 games on the road by the time Saturday night’s Spurs game is over. “I won’t run guys ragged to get it. We want it, it would be nice to get, but you have to get through the season in one piece and pace yourselves a little bit.”
To be honest, inside 20 games to play, the Warriors needn’t go all out for first place to actually get it. Their lead on the rest of the Western Conference is strong enough; the Houston Rockets are the next closest team after the Spurs, and they’re 8.5 games back.
These two matchups between Golden State and San Antonio this month will effectively decide who gets first place. If the Warriors win both, they essentially work with a 3.5-game edge from this point forward (factoring in their current 1.5-game lead). Those are the two games they need to go all out for. They can coast through the rest of the schedule, knowing it’s beyond unlikely the Spurs make up such a gap without winning the season series with them.