Steph Curry scores 34 and the Warriors take care of business in win over Thunder

With the regular season winding down and an advantageous spot in the play-in tournament at stake, the Warriors must take care of business against the sub-.500 teams left on their schedule.

On Thursday night, they did, defeating the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder 118-97 at Chase Center in the first of a six-game homestand to close out the season.

Thursday’s win was a good way to get the final stretch started. Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Andrew Wiggins added 18 and Mychal Mulder’s 25 points (including seven made 3-pointers) off the bench helped keep Oklahoma City at a comfortable distance. As a team, Golden State moved the ball well (36 assists on 42 made baskets), rebounded (49 to 39) and kept turnovers low (13).

“A lot of guys played well and we just did what we had to do,” head coach Steve Kerr said.

No, now is not the time to dole out praise. The Warriors (34-33) should have beaten the Thunder (21-45) and should beat them again Saturday. But this is a team that has plenty of disappointing losses on the ledger: last week in Minnesota, a pair of losses to the Wizards and some duds against the Magic and Kings, to name a few.

But unlike in those bad losses, the Warriors did not stagger in response to the lesser team’s best punch. After Oklahoma City cut the lead to six in the third quarter, Curry scored eight straight points to push the lead back to 12. Curry’s layup extended the lead to 16 headed into the fourth, and his supporting cast ran it up to as many as 25.

Those aforementioned losses are why this team has hovered around .500 for most of the season and are in this predicament during this playoff push. With six games left and the Memphis Grizzlies breathing down their neck, the Warriors will likely have to win three of their next four before a season finale against the Grizzlies in order to maintain a spot in the seven-eight game of the play-in tournament.

Winning these two games against the Thunder is necessary because the rest of the slate doesn’t offer a respite. The final four games are against Utah, Phoenix and New Orleans before Memphis — teams either at the top of the conference standings or in the playoff hunt.

Because the Grizzlies have a much easier schedule the rest of the way, the Warriors will need to handle the Thunder and Pelicans and will likely need to steal a game against the Suns or Jazz in order to earn the No. 8 seed. After the Grizzlies lost to the Detroit Pistons Thursday, the Warriors have a half-game lead for eighth place.

The motivation to stay in the top eight is clear: Two opportunities to win one game and advance to the playoffs. The play-in tournament consists of games between the Nos. 7 and 8 teams, and the Nos. 9 and 10 teams. The winner of the 7-8 game advances to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed, while the loser plays the winner of the 9-10 game to determine the final playoff spot in each conference.

But the Warriors can’t rely on Memphis losing more winnable games. Instead, they have to focus on the team in front of them, just as they did Thursday and must do again in a couple of days.

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *