The Golden State Warriors are hitting their stride at the right time, and one insider believes it could put the team on track for yet another playoff showdown with LeBron James.
The Warriors have won four straight games to climb back to .500, with their 28-28 record putting them in ninth place in the Western Conference. At the same time, the injury-riddled Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games and tumbled down to fifth place. If the trends continue, one insider believes the two could meet in the newly installed play-in tournament in what would be the fifth playoff matchup between a LeBron-led team and the Warriors.
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Warriors Rise, Lakers Fall
As Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports noted, a difficult upcoming stretch for the Lakers could send the team tumbling down the playoff bracket even more, especially as both James and Anthony Davis remain sidelined with injuries. He noted that the team faces a “brutal stretch” that includes two against the Utah Jazz, another two against the Dallas Mavericks, and games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics.
“The Lakers have been staying afloat, going 6-7 since James’ injury in late March, largely thanks to their stellar defense. But that is a brutal stretch to negotiate even for full-strength teams, let alone one that’s missing perhaps the world’s best basketball player. Even if Davis returns for some of those games, he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction, at least to start, as he works his way back into shape.”
To make matters even more difficult for the Lakers, the No. 7 Dallas Mavericks have the easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, the report added. The teams play consecutive games next week, giving the Mavs the chance to potentially vault over the Lakers and send LeBron and company to the play-in tournament, where another meeting with Curry and the Warriors could be waiting.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 11, 2021
Curry Leads Warriors Surge
While the injury-plagued Lakers have struggled to stay afloat, the Warriors have begun to turn their fortunes after early season struggles. The team is currently on a season-best four-game winning streak and have won six out of the last 10, with Curry enjoying one of the best scoring stretches of his career.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 16, 2021
Curry has averaged 39.9 points across seven games in April, and his stretch of nine straight games with 30 points or more is the first time anyone has done that in a half-century for the Warriors. That included a 53-point outburst against the Denver Nuggets — a game in which Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain for the Warriors all-time scoring title — and a blowout win over the Oklahoma City Thunder where Curry hit 11 three-pointers through three quarters.
Speaking to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the Thunder win, Curry said he likes the opportunity the Warriors have with the play-in tournament.
Stephen Curry has three 50-point games this season. No other player has multiple 50-point games this year.
-53 points, 10 threes, 58.3 FG%, 55.6 3PT% vs DEN
-57 points, 11 threes, 61.3 FG%, 57.9 3PT% vs DAL
-62 points, 8 threes, 58.1 FG%, 50 3PT% vs POR pic.twitter.com/F692UNZggA
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 13, 2021
“I like the opportunity that’s in front of us,” Curry said. “We have an opportunity to make this season mean something down the stretch because of the play-in. The opportunity of peaking at the right time.
“I’m sure there are gonna be a lot of opinions on it, and we’ll see how it plays out. But I’m with it.”