The magic number is down to one for the Golden State Warriors. Looking to clinch their second straight playoff berth, the Warriors now control their own destiny. They host the Denver Nuggets Thursday night, who they coincidentally knocked out of the playoffs a season ago. A win and they are in.
Golden State has not reached consecutive playoff appearances since the 1990-1991 to 1991-1992 seasons. They can thank both Mark Jackson and Stephen Curry for their tremendous franchise turnaround. Curry has put up incredible numbers this season and is deserving of the All-NBA-First-Team. He has averaged 23.5 points, 8.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the arc and 88 percent from the free-throw line. The first time All-Star is a leader by example both on and off the court and has been the positive face of the Warriors franchise that they have so desperately needed for the better part of the past two decades.
Curry and the Warriors will look to avenge their second round playoff exit from a season ago, but in a stacked Western Conference it will be tough. Sitting in the sixth seed as of Thursday, their first round matchup would be against their rival Los Angeles Clippers – a tough draw to say the least. But a confident Warriors team feels that they can beat anyone, anywhere. They have proven to be fully capable of doing just that against every team in the league with the exception of the San Antonio Spurs, who have owned Golden State for nearly 20 years.
Another potential, but less likely first round matchup would be against the Houston Rockets. If the Warriors could somehow leapfrog the Portland Trailblazers and sneak into the fifth seed, then they could better their first round odds. It will be tough to do so, but it is most definitely a possibility, especially with an upcoming matchup against Portland this Sunday.
With so much talk surrounding Mark Jackson and his recent coaching staff scuffles, it seems that many have lost sight of the Warriors excellent season that will most likely see at least 50 wins, surpassing last year’s mark of 47. “If you pay attention to the chatter, then you lose sight of what’s taking place,” Jackson said. “If it was great noise around here, our chatter is irrelevant. The numbers speak for themselves.”
With just five games remaining, Jackson has done another outstanding job with his team. When it comes down to it, you are looking for winners. And Mark Jackson is a winner. He has proven it time and time again. His motivation and relationship with his players has become the foundation of the Warriors recent success. Stephen Curry has not transformed into the face of the franchise and one of the top players in the league for no reason, he has Mark Jackson in his ear 24/7. And for the Golden State front office to have any thoughts of disposing of Jackson would be a huge mistake. As he said, “Numbers speak for themselves.”
Commentary by Rich Peters
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer of the Golden State Warriors