Golden State Warriors: Can They Make a Playoff Run During Season's Second Half?

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Golden State Warriors: Can They Make a Playoff Run During Season's Second Half?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Who would’ve thought that during the 2011-2012 NBA season, Golden State Warriors fans would be clamoring about a player who is not in the team instead of worrying about the players who are on the team?

Such is the curious case of the phenomenon of ex-Warrior Jeremy Lin. Rather than focusing on their own home team, Golden States rabid fan base is up in arms about the performance of now-New York Knick point guard.

Meanwhile, the Warriors’ season has been one of potential excitement amid kinetic misfortune.

Per usual.

Heading into the season, renewed enthusiasm surrounded the oft-maligned ballclub. There was new ownership, new coaches, and new attitude for a franchise that had seen the NBA postseason only once since 1994.

Somehow, rookie head coach Mark Jackson has been unable to make good on his incoming philosophy of building a) a defensive-minded team, and b) a winning team.

Instead, Golden State finds itself 22nd in opponent field goal percentage (45.3) and 26th in the NBA in both points per game allowed (100.7) and opponent three-point percentage (36.6).

Worse, the team’s rebounding average chugs in at 28th in the league (39.6 per game).

Where’s the tough-mindedness Jackson was supposed to instill in this now comminuted young ballclub?

Jackson avowed that the Warriors would make the playoffs this year; but so far, that is a strong unlikelihood. Golden State is currently holding down the not-so-coveted 12th spot in the Western Conference—a position that they both do and do not deserve to be in.

Their midseason record of 13-17 is highlighted by remarkable early-season wins over the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, sprinkled with six devastating losses by three or fewer points and an additional two defeats coming in overtime.

The skill and ability is there, but the team simply is unable to get over the hump and win games in a fashion that moves them into the level of the league’s elite.

What was the biggest disappointment of the first half of the Warriors' season?

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So, what exactly are the team’s problems? How is a team with such talent in Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee unable to string together a series of wins?

How are the Warriors not even at .500?

Firstly, the Warriors starting five of Ellis, Curry, Lee, Andris Biedrins and Dorell Wright are subpar defensive players individually—and collectively as a unit they’re even worse. In fact, Jackson has made the daring decision on more than one occasion of sitting his starters in the fourth quarter of close games.

Seriously—the starting unit sits during crunch time.

What team with realistic playoff aspirations does not have its alleged best players on the court when it matters most?

In the team’s 93-90 win over the Sacramento Kings in January, Ellis was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, while Curry entered the game sporadically during the period primarily for free-throw shooting purposes.

Wow.

The Warriors’ two star guards; however, are not solely to blame for the team’s inconsistent first half of the season.

Biedrins and Wright have been fairly invisible while on the court. Biedrins in particular has almost completely faded into oblivion, posting 2.3 points per game, seeing an average of a mere 17.3 minutes of action. Wright has regressed from his impressive 2010-11 campaign and seems to be lost in the shuffle in Jackson’s more static offense.

The lethargy at both ends of the floor have Warriors fans wondering just what will happen to the team during the season’s second half.

Golden State is in a very precarious position: If they do not finish with one of the league’s seven worst records, they’ll lose their first-round draft pick this offseason. And yet they currently stand in line behind four other teams for the desired eighth spot in the conference.

Such is the ambivalent fate of the Warriors. They’re not good enough to be a playoff team; but they’re not quite crappy enough to secure a lottery pick.

Will the Warriors make the playoffs this season?

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Make no mistake. Jackson will not allow the team to exactly roll over and die.

Jackson comes from the old school, an institute that has taught him the virtues of playing tough basketball and not giving up. So expect the Warriors to claw and scratch until the very end. Even if their record is grossly putrid.

To make matters worse for Golden State fans, though, is the fact that across the country, a pesky backup point guard is receiving international headlines for his heady play over the past three weeks.

The Bay Area fan base has expressed its frustration at letting Lin go prior to the season, instead pondering what the team would have been like if he were still employed by the Warriors.

It’s a bit ironic, however; fans are a little Linsane in thinking he’d have been the same out-of-nowhere marvel had he stayed.

But the point is the Dubs have not done a lick of good on the court to distract their fans from wondering, What if?

Instead, all the Warriors have done so far this year is make fans wince and ask, What the heck?

Hopefully the second half won’t make them indifferently turn away and say, “Whatever.”

 

Follow me on Twitter: @nathanieljue

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