Barber: Second-half Warriors predictions
I predict the Warriors will play the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena on Thursday night, then host the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
As you can see, I have acquired certain prognosticative superpowers. I’m not sure how it happened. Maybe the radioactive fortune teller who bit me? (Long story.) In any case, with the Warriors returning from a weeklong All-Star break, this is the perfect time to offer some bold predictions for the second “half” of the season, which is actually the final 25/82nds. Here are some things that are going to happen in the home stretch:
The Warriors will finish with the best record in the West.
Oohhh, really going out on a limb there, right? Saying the two-time defending champions will be the No. 1 seed in their conference. But this is no given. The Warriors have a tendency to treat the regular season like six months of pregame stretching, which is why they lost home-court advantage to the Houston Rockets a year ago.
Alas, the Denver Nuggets, currently Golden State’s biggest competition in the West, don’t have the firepower to gain two games on the champs. And the Nuggets, who struggle on the road, must play 13 of their final 25 games away from home, with nine of those road contests coming against likely playoff teams. You want a hotter take? The Warriors will not have the best record in the NBA this year. That will belong to the Toronto Raptors.
The Warriors will sign a backup center.
There is no truth to the rumor that the Warriors could play with a five-man roster and win another championship. But they have done just fine with a 14-man roster this season, leaving one spot open to save a little money.
As the playoffs draw closer, the temptation will be too great for general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr, and the Warriors will make a move to sign someone whose contract has been bought out by another team. On most nights, an extra wing player would be of more service to this team than a fourth big man. But if DeMarcus Cousins were to get injured, Golden State’s lack of size in the post would become glaring again. Whether it’s Robin Lopez or Marcin Gortat or Enes Kanter or some other sort-of-serviceable tall person, the Warriors will fill that 15th spot.
There will be at least one more Kevin Durant blowup.
After the Strife at Staples in November, one train of thought said that the heated argument between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green would prove to be a good thing for the Warriors — that too many issues had been bubbling below the surface, waiting for an outlet to erupt.
For a while, it looked like that flashpoint may indeed have eased the strain, and I believe it did — for Green, who needs to blow his top every once in a while. Durant seemed good, too, until reports surfaced that the Knicks were clearing cap space for the unstoppable forward, and that he was enamored with the Big Apple. Durant finally teed off on the media at an awkward post-game press conference.
Things are smooth again. Durant was the All-Star Game MVP, and appeared to smile throughout his stay in Charlotte, North Carolina.