Realistic NBA Playoff Expectations for the Golden State Warriors

James PearsonCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2013

Mar 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after scoring a basket against the New York Knicks during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Get excited!

The Golden State Warriors appear like they are headed to the NBA playoffs. As long as you don’t have high expectations when they get there, you will be just fine.

The Warriors have been all over the map, and this postseason should be no different. They could just as easily pull off an upset, evident by the 30-17 record they once held, as they are likely to get swept. They have proved this in a span of games during February and March in which they went 3-13.

The Dubs still have 15 games to rediscover the magic they held at the start of the season. But for now, their playoff expectations shouldn’t go beyond anything other than just being thrilled to make an appearance.

That is putting no shame on their season. This roster is just the third Golden State team to make the playoffs since 1994. That’s quite an accomplishment.

And who knows, if they get hot, it wouldn't be surprising to see them pull a first-round upset. But with the way they have been performing over the last month, don’t count on that happening.

The most disturbing stat as playoffs approach is that the Warriors are currently 17-22 against teams above .500. Plus, they are 4-7 in games against the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets. This would be their three likely opponents in the first round should they be lucky enough to avoid the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder.

Another alarm to consider is experience, or the lack thereof.

Take out Richard Jefferson, who is averaging 10.9 minutes a game in only 46 played, and the total number of playoff appearances by any Golden State Warrior player is six. Three are from Carl Landry alone.

The collective inexperience poses a problem. Consider that every other team expected to make the playoffs were there last year, except for the Houston Rockets. And even they have three players in their starting five that were on playoff rosters last season, so they are not exactly wet behind the ears.

On the plus side, this team is still very talented. If Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack and David Lee all get hot, they can defeat anybody in the NBA.

Anybody. Including that 21-game win streak team

The Warriors, if healthy, were expected to be a top team in the Western Conference. Even though that never happened, they did make themselves the talk of the NBA in the early going. They just have had too many moving parts.

All things considered, they have done a very good job. They overcame the injury to Brandon Rush. They balanced the lineup with Bogut in and out of it and played through a stretch where they faced nine of 12 matchups on the road. 

They got through all that, and in the end, they should be able to call themselves a playoff team.  That is going to have to be enough, for this year anyway.

If the Warriors use these final games to get into a groove, improve the defense and get into shape (especially Andrew Bogut), then they can get back to being the Golden State team that we all saw in the first part of the season. That would now include a healthy Bogut.

That team could pull off a first-round upset!

The team that we have seen lately could not.

There is always a chance, but consider the 2013 NBA playoffs to be a learning experience for the Warriors. Even if they do get swept, as long as they learn from it that would be a huge stepping stone for the franchise.

Next season, the Warriors will head into opening night with a roster full of playoff-experienced players. More importantly, they'll have a young head coach who can say he guided his team to the postseason in his first full year.

But best of all, they will not be in the lottery again!