The Golden State Warriors ended 2022-23 on a ringing high note Sunday, blowing out the tanking Portland Trail Blazers 157-101 to clinch a playoff berth. The defending champions have avoided the play-in tournament despite a topsy-turvy regular season, setting the stage for a highly anticipated battle with the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the playoffs, their ideal matchup.
Golden State, fortunately, has about a week of rest and preparation before taking the floor again—crucial for not just one of the league’s oldest teams, but the re-acclimation of Andrew Wiggins after being sidelined since just before the All-Star break.
After the game, though, Steve Kerr wasn’t quite ready to look ahead to the playoff battle for Northern California bragging rights. He was still focused on the Warriors entering the postseason with palpable momentum despite such a rough and rocky 82-game grind.
“It’s a great sign. We’ve played really well over the last couple weeks…Today our guys were locked in right from the beginning. They knew what was at stake and controlled the game from the opening tap. Hopefully that carries over to next week,” Kerr said. “Most importantly, after a really long and in many ways tumultuous season, we got where we needed to get, and that’s into the playoffs and we’ve got a chance. That’s all we were hoping for.”
Golden State enters the playoffs with an 8-2 record in its last 10 games. That pair of losses came by a combined five points, too. Wiggins is set to play in Game 1 against Sacramento, making the Warriors full-strength for the first time since early February—before they swapped James Wiseman for Gary Payton II, fortifying the back of Kerr’s rotation.
All signs point to the Dubs peaking at the right time. We’ll have to wait until next week, though, to know if that obvious progress withstands the test of playoff basketball.