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First Round Roulette

edit:casino time:2018-04-12

Before the Warriors can begin their playoff run, they have to find out who they'll face first.

You have to hand it to the schedule gods. Even they couldn't have envisioned such an exciting culmination to the end of the regular season.

The Warriors' regular season is over and done with, after Golden State lost in Utah on Tuesday night, bringing their record to 58-24. They've long since clinched a playoff spot for the sixth-straight year and are locked into the second seed in the West, although their first round opponent remains unknown at this time. That's because the NBA is in for one wild night on the final day of the regular season, with several matchups left to play that will have a significant impact on playoff seeding.

24 NBA teams will play their 82nd and final regular season game later tonight, and amongst those 12 head-to-head matchups are a few Western Conference duels that will be of particular interest to the Warriors. But before we get into all that, let's first take a look at the standings heading into tonight's action:


As you can see above, there's quite a logjam at the middle and back end of the Western Conference playoff picture. Utah and Portland are currently tied for third with identical 48-33 records. One game behind them are New Orleans, San Antonio and Oklahoma City, who sit in a three-way tie at 47-34. And, finally, just one game behind that trio are both Minnesota and Denver in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot with a record of 46-35. All in all, that's seven teams still fighting for playoff positioning, with only six spots up for grabs.

If that doesn't excite you, perhaps this next part will.

Tonight, on the final day of the regular season, all seven of those teams are in action. And in certain cases, they're playing against one another.

Portland hosts Utah, New Orleans hosts San Antonio and Minnesota hosts Denver (in what essentially amounts to a play-in game), while Oklahoma City finishes their season off at home against the Grizzlies. Given all the possible permutations of how those games may shake out, the Western Conference playoff picture is nowhere near set in stone at this point. However, with each game that finishes tonight, certain possibilities can and will be eliminated.

So, how does all this impact the Warriors? The simple answer is, quite significantly. It would be tough to envision a scenario in which they could be further impacted by so many results out of their control.

As the #2 seed in the West, the Warriors will face whoever ends up as the #7 seed. As things currently stand, there are still four teams Golden State could face in the first round. See below for who those possible first round opponents are, and what would have to happen tonight in order to lock in that matchup:

Possible First Round Opponent #1: New Orleans Pelicans

Record: 47-34
Season Series: 3-1 Golden State
What Would Have to Happen:

Denver beats Minnesota, San Antonio beats New Orleans and Memphis beats Oklahoma City

OR

Minnesota beats Denver, San Antonio beats New Orleans and Memphis beats Oklahoma City

*A New Orleans or Oklahoma City victory would rule out a Warriors-Pelicans first round matchup.

Possible First Round Opponent #2: San Antonio Spurs

Record: 47-34
Season Series: 3-1 Golden State
What Would Have to Happen:

Denver beats Minnesota, New Orleans beats San Antonio and Memphis beats Oklahoma City

OR

Minnesota beats Denver, New Orleans beats San Antonio and Oklahoma City beats Memphis

*A San Antonio victory would rule out a Warriors-Spurs first round matchup.

Possible First Round Opponent #3: Minnesota Timberwolves

Record: 46-35
Season Series: 2-1 Golden State
What Would Have to Happen:

Minnesota beats Denver, San Antonio beats New Orleans and Oklahoma City beats Memphis

OR

Minnesota beats Denver, New Orleans beats San Antonio and Memphis beats Oklahoma City

*A Denver victory would rule out a Warriors-Timberwolves first round matchup.

Possible First Round Opponent #4: Denver Nuggets

Record: 46-35
Season Series: 2-2 Tie
What Would Have to Happen:

Denver beats Minnesota, San Antonio beats New Orleans and Oklahoma City beats Memphis

OR

Denver beats Minnesota, New Orleans beats San Antonio and Oklahoma City beats Memphis

*A Minnesota or Memphis victory would rule out a Warriors-Nuggets first round matchup.

Simple enough, right?

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