Apr 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates with guard Klay Thompson (11) after a basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 130-120. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NBA Playoffs: Previewing the Golden State Warriors

Record: 51-31

Head Coach: Mark Jackson

Regular Season Team MVP: Stephen Curry

First Round Opponent: Los Angeles Clippers

Regular Season Series vs. Clippers: Series tied 2-2.

The Golden State Warriors have one of the best point guards in the league in Stephen Curry. He can get hot in an instant and has the ability to go for 30-plus points in any game. Add in his passing and playmaking abilities and he’s nearly an impossible guard.

However, as a team, the Warriors have been streaky all year, but have played their best basketball in late-Dec through early-Jan, when they put together a 10-game winning streak. Other winning steaks, that they managed to piece together this season, include a five-game winning streak and two four-game winning streaks. One of the most impressive aspects of their season is that they have only lost more than two games in a row, once (when they lost three in a row early in the season).

One statistic worth noting is how good the Warriors are when Klay Thompson scores a lot. When Klay Thompson leads the game in scoring, the Warriors are undefeated this season (8-0). The Warriors are also 6-2 when David Lee leads the game in scoring. Stephen Curry almost always contributes in scoring, but they almost always win when he has big contributions from the other stars on the team. This will be a key come playoff time. They can’t rely on Curry to bring them wins. They need a team effort. And with the loss of Andrew Bogut, that’s only going to be that much more essential.

Strengths: Obviously, the Warriors score very well, ranked 10th in the league at 103 points per game. They shoot the ball well, at 46 percent, which also ranks in the top-10. They are ranked fifth in three-point percentage at 37 percent. They’re also a top-10 defensive team, and rank 2nd in opponents field goal percentage (44 percent) and ranked 5th in opponents 3P% at 35 percent.

Another strength we must look at is their ability to win on the road. When it comes to the playoffs, winning at home is a lot easier than winning on the road. So, when you can win on the road you should usually fare well. Since the calendar flipped to the year 2014, the Golden State Warriors have played 19 away games, tallying 13 wins and 6 losses. This will bode well for the Warriors come playoff time. That doesn’t mean they are bad at home, because they also fair well at home, going 13-9 at home since the calendar flipped to 2014. They are a team with a winning mentality and a winning roster. They will take that mind frame into the playoffs and apply it. They will give any team they are matched up against trouble.

Weaknesses: The team ranks 25th in turnovers at nearly 15 per game. They also rank 18th in free throw percentage and 20th at free throws attempted, meaning they don’t get to the line a lot. Other than that, the only other weakness they have is that they are streaky, but that can be a good thing as well. Also, the loss of Bogut couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Warriors’ top three scorers are Stephen Curry (23.7 points per game), David Lee (18.5 points per game) and Klay Thompson (18.1 points per game). Aside from those three, they don’t really have any consistent scorers. They rely on these three guys to bring them the points needed to win. Yes, it has worked thus far. However, in the playoffs you will need your bench to really step up. Their next top scorer behind those three is Harrison Barnes, who averages 9.3 points per game. That’s a big drop. Not to mention, there two centers only average a combined 15.2 points per game. Aside from David Lee at the power forward position, they don’t have any scorers down low and that will really hurt the Warriors. Jermaine O’Neal will need to step up huge in the absence of Bogut for this team to be successful.

Playoff Ceiling: The Warriors have showcased their ability to be unstoppable (at times), but have also proved to be a very flawed team. Their ceiling is high and if a couple of people step up to the plate and start cranking home runs, then they will be golden. I say they have a high chance of making it to the Western Conference Finals, but they will need to be hot to get there.

What Will Happen: The Warriors will not give up without a fight. It doesn’t matter who they play, they will make any series a good series. Stephen Curry is super clutch when the game is tight in the final minute, so any tight games have to go to the Warriors. Also, they are very good on the road, so their opponent can’t be loose at home. And they also do well at home, so they have everything in their favor. I predict that the first round series will be tight and will probably go to seven games. Given the fact they are good at home, on the road, late in games, I would have to give the Warriors the win, 4-3, since they don’t crack under pressure.


Editor’s note: This was a guess post from Justin Becker of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter at @NBAFantasyInfo, and you can follow the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page. For more NBA basketball news visit FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com, a fantasy basketball blog.

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