The Warriors face several big questions in their effort to avoid the play-in tournament

The Warriors face several big questions in their effort to avoid the play-in tournament

LOS ANGELES — The Warriors are on a mission to play beyond April 7. More specifically, though, the goal should be to avoid the play-in tournament at all costs.

The Warriors (29-29) are stuck in play-in purgatory with only 24 games left of the regular season. FiveThirtyEight gives the Warriors a 72% chance of making the playoffs and a 5% chance of winning it all. While they have the 13th-best odds of making the postseason, they are still a top-seven favorite to claim the title.

Nothing about this season suggests a prolonged win streak is coming, though. The Warriors are projected by FiveThirtyEight to finish 43-39, tied for the Western Conference’s sixth and final playoff spot.

The Warriors hold the belief that if they are healthy come playoff time, they have a shot in any seven-game series. But they’ve been far too inconsistent this season to take their chances in a win-or-go-home scenario that they could face in the play-in tournament.

The Warriors are currently in ninth place and would need to leap three teams to make the playoffs outright. They’re a game behind the Dallas Mavericks, who are in sixth, and 2 1/2 games out of fourth place, which belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Securing a top-six seed in the West is doable, but the Warriors will need to play a lot better in this final seven-week stretch than they did in the first four months of the season.

Keys for a postseason push, as outlined by Bay Area News Group reporter Shayna Rubin, include Andrew Wiggins returning to last year’s playoff form; Stephen Curry getting and staying healthy; and the continuous growth of Jonathan Kuminga.

The Warriors will play six games — all against Western Conference foes — in nine days out of the break, starting Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers, who upgraded their roster before the trade deadline. This stretch, which the Warriors will begin and possibly finish without Curry, could be a defining moment of their season.

Here are three looming questions the Warriors must answer:

Can Golden State improve its defense?

The Warriors have lost too many close games this season because they were unable to get enough stops down the stretch. That’s why fixing their janky defense continues to be the biggest concern for coach Steve Kerr and his staff.

Golden State’s past title runs have always been powered by its lock-down defense, but this year, the Warriors have posted their worst defensive rating in Draymond Green’s tenure.


Spread the love