The current edition of the Golden State Warriors have just two regular season games left and are scratching and clawing their way into position for the NBA Play-In Tournament. The Warriors picked up an important victory on Wednesday night that will impact their future prospects though, and they did so without even taking the court.
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By virtue of the Los Angeles Lakers’ victory against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, Golden State is assured that they will not finish the regular season with a top-10 record. With this, the Warriors will hold on to the draft protections of their 2021 first-round pick, which would have gone to the Oklahoma City Thunder if the team had finished with a top-10 record.
The Lakers became the 10th team to reach 40 wins with the decision over the Rockets and with only Friday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans and Sunday’s tilt vs. the Memphis Grizzlies left, the best the Dubs can finish is 39-33. Last November, Golden State traded a top-20 protected first-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for Kelly Oubre Jr.
Since OKC won’t be receiving the Warriors’ first-rounder, they will instead get the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second-round choice that Golden State acquired last year when trading for Andrew Wiggins.
Warriors Keeping One Eye on Suddenly Hot Timberwolves
The first priority for head coach Steve Kerr, MVP candidate Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors organization over the next few days is obviously to win their final two games and continue the momentum into the Play-In Tournament. Aside from keeping tabs on the Lakers’ battle with the Rockets on Wednesday though, Golden State fans can keep on monitoring someone other than their team when it comes to impacting the Dubs’ future.
In that same deal that brought Wiggins to the Bay Area, point guard D’Angelo Russell was sent to Minnesota. With Wiggins, the Warriors acquired a top-three protected first-round pick for this summer’s draft.
With the T-Wolves being a perennial cellar dweller in the NBA, and being in the midst of a season in which they fired head coach Ryan Saunders after a 7-24 start, the odds were good that Golden State would get a high draft pick. After a rough start under their new head coach, Chris Finch, the Wolves have somewhat turned it around though and entering Thursday, only have the sixth-worst record in the Association.
Minnesota has three games left before their season is over – all at home – against the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.
Warriors Final 2 Games Slated for ESPN
Having built a three-time champion dynasty during the 2010s, the Warriors are plenty used to playing in the national spotlight. They’ll get two more chances for that opportunity before the postseason commences.
Their Friday night game against the Pelicans – scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. ET tip-off – will be played on ESPN. Then, Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies is slated for 12:30 p.m. PT/3:30 p.m. ET as the back-end of an ESPN doubleheader, following the Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks.
Depending on what happens with Memphis in their back-to-back on Thursday and Friday against the Sacramento Kings, Sunday afternoon’s finale could be a doozy. Entering action on Thursday, the Grizzlies are the ninth seed at 36-33, but just half a game behind the 37-33 Warriors for the eighth spot.
The Play-In Tournament begins on May 18.