NBA

Rare quirk in NBA second-half schedule sets Warriors up for playoff berth in jam-packed Western Conference

The second half of the NBA schedule was released on Wednesday, removing some of the mystery associated with an unprecedented 2020-21 season. The league wisely scheduled only the first half of games prior to the season, leaving room in the second half for make-up games from COVID-related postponements, of which there have been plenty.

Due to some teams needing to make up more games than others, there are a few quirks in the second-half schedule. The Los Angeles Clippers, for example, don’t have to leave Los Angeles from March 29 until April 13, as they play nine home games in a span of 15 days. Another feature of the schedule that could prove instrumental in the Western Conference playoff race is the fact that the Golden State Warriors will play their final six games of the season at home, the longest homestand to close a season in franchise history.

The Warriors entered Wednesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers in the eighth spot in the West, but the standings are absolutely jam-packed. Golden State is just 1.5 games out of the No. 5 spot, and only three games ahead of the No. 11 spot. It’s safe to say that the team’s playoff destiny, or at least its seeding, will be determined over the course of those final six home games.

“It could be very beneficial. We’ll see how everything plays out,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the six home games to end the regular season. “Hopefully we’re in a good position going into that homestand. But, long way to go, so we’ll see.”

The Warriors face the three best teams in the West — the Clippers, Jazz and Lakers — to start their second-half schedule, but things become more navigable after that, concluding with those six home games against the Thunder (twice), Jazz, Suns, Pelicans and Grizzlies. At that point, OKC could very well be in tank mode, the Jazz and Suns may rest players with the postseason approaching, and the Pelicans and Grizzlies could be Golden State’s chief competition in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff picture.

The favorable schedule sets up the Warriors to get back into the postseason after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2012 due to a rash of injuries, chiefly to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Of course, they have to get there first and stay healthy, but the Warriors have to like their chances if they’re within striking distance entering that final homestand.



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