Golden State Warriors tiebreak scenarios for the NBA Playoffs

The Warriors have come on strong to close out the regular season, but still have work to do
The Warriors' win over the Lakers Tuesday night greatly enhanced their playoff positioning
The Warriors' win over the Lakers Tuesday night greatly enhanced their playoff positioning / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

It's taken all season, but the Golden State Warriors are finally hitting their stride. Steve Kerr's team has won nine of its last 10 games to thrust itself into the thick of the playoff conversation, and with just two home games remaining, the Warriors have the chance to finish the regular season on a high note.

It hasn't been easy for the four-time champs this year. Golden State has stayed afloat despite multiple Draymond Green ejections and suspensions, some early-season discord between Kerr and Jonathan Kuminga, and the understandable reality that Klay Thompson, who at 34 years old has overcome both a torn ACL and torn Achilles, is not the player he once was.

Through it all, the Warriors have persevered, led of course by the brilliance of Steph Curry, who continues to prove why he's one of the best to ever do it. Curry is 10th in the NBA in scoring with 26.3 points per game, and his efficient performance against the Lakers on Tuesday night, when he went 6-6 from three and scored 23 points on only nine field goal attempts, allowed Golden State to clinch the tiebreaker over LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Speaking of tiebreakers, let's take a look at where Golden State stands in the Western Conference playoff picture, and what they stand to gain or lose in the final two games.

Golden State Warriors tiebreak scenarios for playoffs, explained

The NBA introduced the Play-In Tournament in the 2021 playoffs after experimenting with a single play-in game the year before, and the tweak has been a great success. More teams now have a chance to reach the postseason, and the drama of multiple win-and-in games has made for great theater.

The abundance of quality teams in the Western Conference has rendered the Play-In even more meaningful this year. The top 10 teams in the conference are all guaranteed to finish at least eight games above .500, whereas in the East, the 9/10 game will feature the Bulls and the Hawks, which combined are currently 12 games below .500.

Positioning within the Play-In is extremely important, as getting the 7- or 8-seed gives teams two chances to win their way in. Finishing 9th or 10th means needing two wins just to secure a spot against the 1-seed in the first round, with the 10-seed needing to win both games on the road. That's never been done before.

The Warriors are currently in a three-way tie with the Kings and Lakers for 8th in the Western Conference, which means they're also tied for 9th and 10th. The Suns are 7th, but with a two-game cushion and the tiebreaker over Golden State, they're out of reach for the Warriors, with one unlikely exception. If Phoenix loses at Sacramento and Minnesota, and the Kings, Warriors and Lakers all win out, the teams would be in a four-way tie. This would favor Golden State, giving the Warriors the 7-seed.

The Kings hold the tiebreaker over the Warriors and Lakers both head-to-head and in a three-team tie scenario, while the Warriors hold the tiebreaker over the Lakers. That means that as of now, Sacramento would travel to Phoenix for the 7/8 game, while the Lakers would visit the Chase Center to play Golden State in the 9/10 matchup.

The Warriors can clinch at least the 9-seed by beating the Pelicans and Jazz to close out the regular season, and if the Kings stumble at home against either the Suns or Blazers, the Warriors would jump them for the 8-seed.

The Lakers close the regular season with two games on the road, and a loss to either the Grizzlies or Pelicans would virtually guarantee that L.A. would need two road wins to emerge from the Play-In.

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