The Warriors and Houston are now tied in the standings at 45-35. But Golden State lost three of the four meetings against the Rockets, so Houston holds the tie-breaker. So the Warriors now hold the No. 7 seed and Houston the No. 6.
But a lot is to be determined these last two games. Here are some bullet points covering what could happen:
* The Warriors still have a shot at the No. 6 seed.They need to win their last two games (Monday vs. San Antonio, Wednesday at Portland) and hope Houston loses one of its last two (Monday at Phoenix, Wednesday at the Lakers).
* After losing Sunday to the Lakers, the Spurs are now a game behind Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference. But San Antonio’s chances of being No. 1 are officially a long shot. The Thunder, by virtue of having the better conference record, holds the tie-breaker. The Spurs need OKC to lose both of its final games, which is highly unlikely considering the Thunder host Sacramento on Monday and Milwaukee on Wednesday. Oklahoma City is 33-6 at home.
* That means, unless the Thunder closes the season with consecutive home losses, the Warriors will play San Antonio in the first round should they stay at No. 7.
* With nothing (realistic) to play for, the Spurs may rest their key guys on Monday. Already without Manu Ginobili, San Antonio is a constantly concerned about health and having fresh legs for the playoffs. If coach Gregg Popovich goes that route, the Warriors figure to have an easier time beating the Spurs at home
* Beating San Antonio on Monday would make the Warriors 2-2 against the Spurs and no doubt be a confidence boost should the two match-up in the seven-game series.
* Utah plays at Minnesota on Monday. Golden State fans should be rooting for the Jazz. A Utah win means Wednesday’s match-up between the Lakers and visiting Houston is a clincher for the Lakers. If somehow Phoenix can’t upset the Rockets, the Lakers would represent Golden State’s last hope of the No. 6 seed (assuming the Warriors win on Monday).
* Denver is a half-game up on the Clippers and Memphis for the No. 3 seed. But Denver’s Kenneth Faried left the game with a sprained ankle on Sunday. He is day-to-day. Having already lost forward Danilo Gallinari for the rest of the season, Denver looks vulnerable. If the Nuggets win out — they close the season at Milwaukee on Monday and home vs. Phoenix on Wednesday — the No. 3 seed is theirs. If not, the door is cracked for the Clippers (vs. Portland on Tuesday, at Sacramento on Wednesday) and the Grizzlies (at Dallas on Monday, vs. Utah on Wednesday)
* There is one other scenario. The Warriors could lose their last two and the Lakers win their last two. Since the Lakers went 3-1 against Golden State, they hold the tie-breaker. That would mean the Warriors drop to the No. 8 seed and face Oklahoma City in the first round. However, it’s hard seeing the Warriors losing at Portland, who have lost 11 straight and are just closing out the string
Yes, it’s one big convoluted mess. But that only means the Warriors are relevant. Figuring out these scenarios the next few games should be fun