Warriors right where they need to be (w/video)

  • Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) controls the ball against Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass (30) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The Warriors won 108-88. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

They are also a losing streak from threatening their playoff expectations. But in this Western Conference, that is a reasonable reality. And it wouldn't be Warriors basketball if disappointment wasn't just around the corner.

The Warriors are one final push from being in the mix in the brutal West. It didn't come in the world-beating fashion die-hards wanted, but the opportunity is there if they seize it. Coming off a 4-2 trip, having won seven of nine since the All-Star break, it seems they might be finding their groove.

The Warriors are four games behind the Los Angeles Clippers, whom they visit next week, in the race for the Pacific Division crown. So that possibility, which comes with a top-four seed, is still in the Warriors' grasp. Which is right where they should be.

Anyone who thought Golden State would run away with the Pacific probably has a Chris Mullin tramp stamp. But the Warriors are in striking distance even though the Clippers are the better team.

Golden State is 4? games behind Houston and Portland. The Trail Blazers, led by Oakland-native Damian Lillard, shocked everybody. But when the Rockets acquired Dwight Howard to go with James Harden, it was clear they would be vying for a top seed in the West. Sure enough, they hear the Warriors' footsteps.

The first 62 games proved the Warriors were not on the level of Oklahoma City and San Antonio, who are clearly the best teams in the West. And as the NBA enters the home stretch, the Warriors have a chance to prove they are on the level of that second tier.

All those "We're fine" proclamations from coach Mark Jackson will shape out to be right, if the Warriors handle business the last 20 games. The way they took down Boston on Wednesday night, it's clear they sense the time is now.

The Warriors play 13 of their last 20 games at home. Going 12-8 puts them at 50 wins. Going 15-5 (which they have done once this season) turns this campaign from a concern to convincing.

Today's opponent, Atlanta, is one of 10 losing teams left on the schedule. Those teams entered Thursday a combined 163 games under .500, and eight of them have to come to Oracle.

And for a team with 20 wins away from home, some of the remaining road games don't look so daunting: at the Clippers, at Portland twice, at Dallas, at San Antonio, at the Lakers and at Denver.

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