The Golden State Warriors are currently the sixth seed in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff standings and are in a dog fight with seeds seven through nine.
Sunday night The Warriors faced one of those playoff seeded teams, the Phoenix Suns (who had sole possession of the 8th seed heading into the game) in Oakland, California. This game was important on many levels, the Warriors couldn’t afford to lose and slip up in the Western Conference playoff race but also it was a divisional game.
The Phoenix Suns (who have exceeded ALL expectations this season) headed into tonight’s game with a two games to one advantage in the regular season series, and it was paramount that the Warriors won this game and tie up the season series so the Suns wouldn’t own the tie breaker, should these two teams tie for the same record. The game started off with Phoenix showing why they were one of the best offenses in the NBA, the Suns quickly put together a ten point lead in the first quarter, spreading the Warriors defense thin with their three point shooting.
The Warriors bench however were able to keep the game from getting too out of control as they were able to bring the score to 29-22 by the end of the first quarter. The bench for Golden State have been playing very well as of late, averaging over 35 points per game since the team traded for Steve Blake and they kept up the stellar play in this game as well scoring 36 big points and collecting 14 rebounds and only having 3 turnovers
The other important factor to this game was the third quarter, the Warriors were down 62-56 going into the quarter and then Klay Thompson happened. Thompson who only tallied 6 minutes in Friday night’s win over Atlanta due to straining his back falling hard on the court, had one of those hot shooting quarters scoring 13 points including making three 3 pointers in that quarter. The Warriors were able take the lead 77-75 mid-way through the third on one of Thompson’s threes and they stretched the lead to 16 points going into the fourth quarter.
The NBA however is a game of runs and that’s what this resilient Suns team did, cutting the Warriors lead all the way to six with about a minute and a half to go in the game but the Warriors held on despite almost giving the game away on free-throws (going 2-6 from the line in the last 50 seconds of the game) winning 113-107. For the Suns this lost has now puts them currently out of the playoff picture at the ninth seed and the Memphis Grizzles have now slid up to the eighth seed as they own the tie breaker over the Suns.
For the Golden State Warriors they are now 9-2 since the all-star break and are a season-high 16 games above .500. On top of that the Warriors have a two game lead over the Dallas Mavericks (who they play Tuesday in Oakland) for the sixth seed. The Warriors are playing some of their best and most consistent basketball since the ten game winning streak they had in late-December/early-January, and the challenge gets tougher as three of the next four games are against Western Conference playoff teams.