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Heart of a Champion: Warriors Keep Winning

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) smiles after the Warriors made a basket against the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the third quarter at the Chase Center.

On February 3, the Golden State Warriors were at 21-25, only good for the 12th seed in the Western Conference. Many fans and media assumed that their season was done. Many people declared that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were “over the hill” and that the vaunted Warriors dynasty was over. However, you can’t underestimate the heart of a champion. As of February 25, the Warriors are 29-26 and have won eight of their last nine games. With this unexpected hot streak, what are the Warriors playoff chances?

Heart of a Champion: Warriors Keep Winning

The Warriors’ Hot Streak

The turning point in the season was the return of Draymond Green. For all of his antics, Green is still one of the finest defenders in the league, an offensive shotcaller of unparalleled capacity, and the spiritual leader of the Warriors. With Green back, things have begun to turn around. In a moment reminiscent of the ex-Oakland A’s win streak in the movie Moneyball, the Warriors have started to win over and over again. They have won 10 of their last 12 games, including an impressive five-game win streak where they beat multiple playoff teams, including a 127-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers (pre-Joel Embiid injury) and a nail-biter 113-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns where Green secured the win with a clutch-time steal off former Warrior Kevin Durant.

Their only two losses in that time frame were an OT loss to the Atlanta Hawks, where Trae Young went nuclear with 35 points, and a hard-fought 130-125 loss to the championship contender Los Angeles Clippers. Both of those losses were incredibly close. Rather than giving up like the team would have done earlier in the season, the Warriors fought to the end both times. Golden State has suddenly looked like the championship teams of years past since Green’s return.

Current Standings

Following their 97-84 victory vs. the Charlotte Hornets, which had the box score of a game played in 1999, the Warriors’ record is now 29-26. They are currently 10th in the Western Conference, in the Play-In tournament. However, they are only half a game behind the ninth-place Los Angeles Lakers. Furthermore, they recently beat the Lakers 128-110 in a head-to-head showdown on nationally televised primetime. Beyond that, the Lakers have injury rumors swirling around their two top stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers are also 11-18 on the road, which doesn’t bode well for their playoff chances down the stretch. It is highly probable that the Warriors will imminently pass the Lakers in the standings.

As for the contenders to pass the Warriors and take them out of the play-in, the Utah Jazz are four games behind the Warriors at 26-31. They are in the midst of a chaotic free fall as they have gone 2-8 in their last 10. The Houston Rockets are 4.5 games behind the Warriors at 25-31. They are also in the midst of their own free fall as they have gone 3-7 in their last 10. Neither team seems like much of a threat to pass the Warriors, barring a miraculous late-season turnaround. Unless the Warriors have a massive slide and losing streak, it is doubtful that Golden State will fall out of the play-in.

Playoff Chances

If they continue their hot streak, they will likely find themselves in the higher part of the play-in (around seventh or eighth). They would likely face either the current seventh-seed Sacramento Kings or the current eighth-seed Suns in the play-in. The Warriors have had the Kings’ number for years. They have excellent chances against them in the playoffs. The Suns are unreliable as they are powered by Durant, Devin Booker and no one else; they traded all their depth for Bradley Beal. The Suns have also been flagging as of late, as they are 5-5 in their last 10, including embarrassing losses to the Hawks and Pacers.

The Warriors will likely make it out of the Play-In tournament. If and when they do, who knows what will happen? The playoffs are unpredictable. Favorites get upset, and underdogs make miracle runs. However, as the famous Rudy T quote goes: “Don’t underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Curry, Thompson, and Green have 12 rings between them. Coach Steve Kerr has nine rings as a player and a coach. The Warriors have won four championships in the last 10 years. They are a dynasty and have “the heart of a champion.” They can go very far this year with that.

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