9

These Are Must Wins

Vs. Memphis
At Sacramento
At Los Angeles Clippers

With the schedule facing them down the stretch, the Warriors can’t afford another slip up against inferior teams. So what they’re on the road. They need to win these games to keep ahead of Denver, or catch the Mavericks.
This great opportunity for the Warriors to do both.
Denver’s next three games: vs. Seattle and at Detroit and at Philadelphia. They’ll likely go 2-1 (though the Philly game is the second of a back-to-back; the Sixers are playing well and you know they’ll be hyped for Iverson’s return).
Dallas’ next three games: at Miami, vs. Boston, vs. Lakers. They could very well also go 2-1.
So the Ws only way to gain ground would be to go 3-0 against these lowly teams. Winning these three games, the Warriors could head into Friday’s game vs. Houston 3.5 games ahead of Denver (or more) and a game behind Dallas (or tied if the Lakers and Celtics handle business) with one fewer loss than the Mavericks.
This is the LAST significant break in the schedule. Their next games against sub-.500 teams are all surrounded by top-tier opponents. Not to mention, they have a four-game road trip that includes the Spurs, Mavericks and Hornets.
Remember, the Warriors play four of their last five games at home — three of those games come against Sacramento, LA Clippers and Seattle. If they can head into that stretch with a cushion over Denver, or holding the No. 6 seed, their playoff fate will be in their hands. But it all starts by winning these three games.

1

Houston’s Killing Me

I’m thinking I should stop waiting for this team to fall off the map.
I just watched the Rockets blow out Dallas. They look good. They’re sharing the ball. They are knocking down shots. They’ve got some young hustlers who don’t mind doing dirty work.
Not having Yao practically kills their chance of reaching the Finals, but apparently his absence won’t stop them in the regular season. They are playing faster without Yao, which takes advantage of their athleticism and works well in the regular season. Not too sure if it will work in the regular season, when Rafer Alston’s decision making will be critical and players like Carl Landry and Luis Scola will have their weaknesses picked at.
How does Houston’s never-ending streak effect the Warriors? Hard to tell. I guess we’ll see. But I think the Warriors need to get the six seed to have the best chance of advancing (they have no chance in the first round against the Lakers and the Spurs, who are starting to separate themselves). Dallas (No. 7) and Phoenix (No. 6) are falling fast, so maybe the Warriors can overtake one of those teams. Because it doesn’t look as if they’ll catch Houston.