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"I think it takes care of itself because every team is a good team. So we don't have to worry about losing to a bad team come playoff time," Jackson said.

That's a joke, kids.

"In all seriousness," Jackson continued. "I think everybody will understand the moment, everybody will understand we're facing legitimate competition and (that) the lights will be brightest."

Lighting has not been the Warriors' problem this season. Consistency has. The fans at Oracle no longer are surprised to see their team beat the playoff-bound Memphis Grizzlies on a Friday, then lose to the struggling New York Knicks two days later, as happened in late March.

Whether that sets the Warriors apart is another matter.

"Can you tell me one other team in the league that doesn't lose to some teams that aren't very good?" asked Rick Adelman, who just retired as coach of the middling Minnesota Timberwolves. "That's so overboard. I mean, you're gonna lose games. We beat Miami at Miami. I don't think they figured that. And we beat Indiana. We beat San Antonio. It's not something that's unusual. A lot of times it's the schedule, it's injuries, it's the other team's playing well, whatever it is."

Looking ahead to the playoffs, Adelman took it a step further.

"It wouldn't surprise me if anybody got beat in the first round," he said. "Would not surprise me."

Tom Tolbert, who played seven NBA seasons (including three with the Warriors) and is now an icon of Bay Area radio, agrees with Adelman. "All you have to do is look back as far as (Wednesday) night," Tolbert said. "The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Pistons by one, at home. They were trailing the entire, entire game. And that's a team that they should have mopped. And they wanted to win that game because they wanted the No. 2 seed. It's not as easy as it looks."

OK, let's go to the numbers. Golden State lost six games to sub-.500 teams this season, and two to truly awful teams — that is, those with 48 losses or more. Meanwhile, they won eight games against 50-win teams.

That might seem a bit unstable, but it's downright predictable compared to some other elite NBA teams. Consider the Heat, who lost to losing teams 13 times and to bottom feeders seven times (before playing subs in a meaningless game on Wednesday), and beat elite teams 10 times. Or the Thunder, who lost seven games to losing teams and five to really bad teams, and won no less than 15 games against 50-win teams.

If describing the Warriors as even-keeled doesn't seem to fit the image held by most of us in the Bay Area, it is true that the win/loss count of the preceding paragraph leaves out a lot of subtleties. Golden State had several narrow wins against teams they were expected to crush — like 102-101 against the New Orleans Pelicans in November, 115-113 against the Sacramento Kings in December, 99-97 against the Boston Celtics in January and 115-110 against the appalling Milwaukee Bucks in March.

Anyway, even some of the Warriors have acknowledged their tendency to play up or down to the competition. That includes NBA legend Jerry West, currently a member of the team's executive board.

"We have a respectable team, a team that can get better and a team that needs to take another quantum step in terms of playing at a higher level every night," West recently told SLAM online. "We've seen that our effort is usually fantastic against the good teams. Against teams you would think we have a reasonably good chance to beat, sometimes you shake your head and say, 'We didn't come to play tonight.'"

Star point guard Stephen Curry said as much after that April 10 home loss to Denver, which was missing three starters.

"That's what separates where we are now from the top of the West," Curry said. "We feel like we're as good as those guys, and we're gonna be a threat in the playoffs. That's the kind of confidence we have in the locker room, but we gotta take care of these games. And it's on us as players to change that."

The hard part is explaining the lapses. Even on important nights, even when they're well rested, the Warriors sometimes play with no urgency.

Tolbert believes it can be chalked up to inexperience.

"I think teams that are like San Antonio — maybe what the Lakers used to be for a while, the Celtics, teams like that — it takes you a while to get to that point where you're consistently beating all the teams that you should, where you have very few letdowns," Tolbert said. "I think this is just the mark of a really good team that's starting to make that climb, and still learning how to win the games you should win more often than not."

Ah, the Spurs. They had nine victories against 50-win teams this season, fewer than five other playoff qualifiers. But they suffered fewer losses to sub-.500 teams (four) and 48-loss teams (one, not counting Wednesday's glorified exhibition) than any other team in the NBA.

Simply put, the Spurs win the games they're supposed to win. And there aren't many Spurs in this league.

The Warriors certainly haven't reached that level of maturity. They showed last year that they can win as a No. 6 seed, beating No. 3 Denver in six games. But they fell to rock-solid San Antonio in a Western Conference semifinal series. This year, the Warriors find themselves reeling after an injury to center Andrew Bogut, but the torrid shooting of Curry and Klay Thompson makes them a dangerous team.

Tolbert, for one, isn't counting them out.

"I always hate putting ceilings on teams," he said. "I never put a ceiling on any of our teams during our runs. You ask yourself, OK, big picture: Could we win a championship? Doesn't seem likely. But can we win this game? And you always believe you can win a game. No matter who you're playing, you always believe you can win one game. And then you can win one more game. And if you get to four, you move on."

But if For that to happen, the Warriors will have to find some consistency. Ccome out flat against the Clippers, and they are likely to find themselves past the point of rescue by the Splash Brothers' 3-pointers.

"I know we can close out games. We'll be fine," forward Draymond Green said. "Some people may be worried. I don't think many people in this locker room are."

(You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.)