Warriors look to close Oakland era with No. 1 seed
The Golden State Warriors hope to mix in some current-day significance amid the nostalgia Sunday night when they invite the Los Angeles Clippers for a party that otherwise will go down as their final regular-season game ever at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
The Warriors, who moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco in 1962 and then to Oakland in 1971, are scheduled to return to San Francisco in the still-under-construction downtown Chase Center next season.
They hope to do so having won four championships in their final five seasons in Oakland, a trek that begins next weekend with the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Warriors (55-24) have clinched their spot in the postseason. On Sunday, they have an opportunity to assure themselves of the home-court advantage through the Western Conference portion of the playoffs with a win that would clinch the No. 1 seeding.
The Warriors need just one more win, or one Denver Nuggets loss, to claim the top spot in the West entering the playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years.
The last time Golden State lost a playoff series to a Western Conference club, it was against the Clippers in the first round in 2014. Game 7 of that series, played in Los Angeles as the Clippers held the home-court advantage, was the last game Mark Jackson coached for the Warriors.
The Warriors, who have won four in a row overall and four straight at home, enter Sunday's game seemingly divided among those who consider the going-away party to be the day's most important event, while others hope the day's biggest celebration will come after locking down the No. 1 seed.
"We've got one more before we can seal up the No. 1 seed and take care of that goal," Stephen Curry insisted after contributing 40 points to Friday's 120-114 home win over Cleveland. "These next three games (including road games at New Orleans and Memphis) is just about finishing the right way."
Kevin Durant, who spent his first nine seasons in Seattle and Oklahoma City before joining the Warriors in 2016, is taking more of a big-picture approach to the farewell to a site Golden State will continue to call home in the playoffs.
"Playing against these guys for so long when they had the old Warrior jerseys, then transitioning into the new regime of the Warriors, then me coming here, I feel like I have a lot of memories in my career that are different than my teammates," he said after Friday's game.
A Warriors win would go a long way toward determining their first-round playoff opponent as well.
When the Clippers (47-33) lost 122-117 to the rival Lakers on Friday night, they slipped closer to Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the three-team race for the final three spots in the West.
If the Warriors finish as the top seed, they would take on No. 8 in the first round.
Golden State has gone 2-1 against the Clippers this season, but the only previous home game resulted in just a two-point win in December.
The Clippers clinched their playoff berth last week. They've since lost two in a row, which is no coincidence, veteran guard Lou Williams insisted to reporters after Friday's loss.
"Ever since we clinched, we kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit," he observed. "It's happened, that's the reality, and we just got to get out of it."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 7, 2019