If the Golden State Warriors had a choice, they'd rather stay healthy and keep improving than worry about who they'll face in the postseason.
With David Lee day-to-day, Andrew Bogut just coming back and still out of shape and Stephen Curry always an injury risk, the Warriors would do well to emerge from the regular season unscathed.
With just 18 games left in the season, players won't look ahead to the playoffs, but us fans, bloggers and writers sure will. Why else are people so excited about a potential Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs/Oklahoma City Thunder matchup in the first round?
As of now, the Warriors are 2.5 games ahead of the Utah Jazz, who are in ninth place, but with Utah's recent slide and tough schedule, it's hard to see the Warriors suffering a total collapse.
Seeing as it's the Warriors' first time playing meaningful games through mid-March with this core, they won't really mind who they play in the playoffs as long as they have a chance to taste success. However, there is a ranked list with which we can analyze the Warriors' preference in opponents, from most desired to least.
We can safely throw out the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz as potential first-round opponents because the closest team, the Rockets, is seven games out of fifth place. Granted, if the Warriors had a choice, they'd be playing in the Eastern Conference where the competition is easier. A round-robin tournament with 16 teams would suffice, but I digress.
All the following teams are better than the Warriors, but there is a pecking order in how the Warriors would like to match up them.