SAN FRANCISCO—The Golden State Warriors remain red hot, winning their sixth straight game on Sunday, May 16, against the Memphis Grizzlies. Going into the season finale, both teams were locked up with record of 38-33, tied for the eighth seed. The Warriors win clinched the eighth seed, making the Grizzlies the ninth seed, and setting up a showdown versus LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s play-in game.
The Warriors currently have the longest winning streak in the league, headed by their point guard Steph Curry, who also secured the leagues scoring championship on Sunday. Curry is averaging a league best 32.0 points per game, winning the league scoring title for the second time in his career, a feat only three other current NBA Players have accomplished (Kevin Durant, 4x; James Harden, 3x; and Russell Westbrook, 2x).
As per the new play-in tournament, the Warriors (8 seed) will play the Lakers (7 seed). The winner of this game will be the 7 seed in the Western Conference of the NBA Playoffs. The Grizzlies (9 seed) will play the San Antonio Spurs (10 seed). The loser of this game will be eliminated. The winner of this game will play the loser of the Warriors and Lakers game. The winner of that game will be the 8 seed. Thus, the Warriors need to lose twice to not make the playoffs. If they beat the Lakers, they will be the 7 seed and play the Phoenix Suns in the first round. If they lose to the Lakers, but beat the winner of the Grizzlies and Spurs game, they will be the 8 seed and play the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose to both the Lakers and the winner of the 9 vs 10 matchup, they’re packing their bags and heading home for the offseason.
The Lakers are the reigning and defending NBA champions, but their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, have both been curtailed by injuries all year, both missing at least 30 games in this shortened 72 game year. The rest of the troops have held down the fort and secured them a play-in spot, where both stars are expected to be healthy and play.
This will be the Warriors first postseason play since their 2018-2019 finals loss to the Toronto Raptors, which prefaced them losing Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and their sharpshooter Klay Thompson for two full seasons due to injuries. The Warriors will head into the playoffs shorthanded, with their rookie center and solid contributor James Wiseman (11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg) out for the year, due to a meniscus tear he suffered back in April.
“No matter how the season goes, I’m really proud of the way that we’ve given ourselves a chance to make this season matter, given ourselves to play games that matter,” Curry said in a press conference after the Warriors win on Sunday.