Previewing the Warriors' 2023-2024 Play-In


The Warriors' 82-game season is finally over, and they find themselves as the 10th seed, with a 46-36 record. The funny thing is, a 46-36 record would've given the Warriors the 4th seed in the Western Conference. Regardless, the Warriors now have their sights set on the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday- a rematch of the first round of last year's postseason. If the Warriors were to beat the Kings and move on, they would play the loser between the Pelicans and Lakers on Friday, 4/19. In consensus with Warriors' journalist, and our good friend, Eric Apricot, here are our predictions for how the Play-In will fare for the Warriors in the 2023-2024 postseason. 

Tuesday, 4/16

The Warriors will first play the Kings on the road at 7:00 PST, in a win-or-go-home scenario (though for the Warriors, every game in the Play-In is essentially win-or-go-home). As Draymond Green said in his final post-game interview against the Jazz, the Kings know the Warriors well, and the Warriors know the Kings well. This game will ultimately be decided by the little things: who's willing to dive for the loose balls, make in-game defensive adjustments, and more. In terms of the season series, it is tied 2-2 between the Kings and the Warriors. The Warriors won the first two games, early in the season, 122-114 and 102-101, respectively. The Kings then won the next two games against the Warriors, 124-123 and 134-133. In all four of their head-to-head matchups this past season, the Warriors have the edge in average points per game, roughly 120 vs 118, and assists per game, roughly 29 vs 26. However, the main caveat is that for this upcoming Play-In game, the Kings are missing two of their key scorers: Kevin Huerter and 6th Man of the Year candidate Malik Monk. In past matchups, the Warriors were the ones riddled with injuries and absences, whether it be Draymond Green's suspensions or injuries to role players such as Gary Payton II. All in all, considering that the Kings are missing two key players and have lost five of their last seven, while the Warriors are essentially fully healthy and have won the last ten of their twelve games, give me the Warriors winning, keeping their Playoff hopes alive. 

 Friday, 4/19

Both Eric and I predict that the Lakers will beat the Pelicans and become the 7th seed, given the fact that the Lakers have beaten the Pelicans by 16+ points three times this season and have only lost to them once. It feels like every single time the Pelicans face the Lakers, their players, especially Zion Williamson, freeze and play well below their standards. Thus, we anticipate a Pelicans-Warriors matchup for the 8th seed in the West, a rematch of the Warriors' 81st regular season game. In terms of the season series, the Pelicans have beaten the Warriors twice, with a 141-105 victory on January 10th and a 114-109 victory just recently. The Warriors, however, have beaten the Pelicans once in a blowout, 130-102, on October 30th. In both blowout games, both teams had been missing key pieces, whether it be Brandon Ingram and Trey Murphy for the Pelicans, or Jonathan Kuminga, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson for the Warriors. In their most recent game, the Pelicans were missing Brandon Ingram, but it clearly made no difference as they shot a whopping 53% from three, including the second quarter where they scored 45 points and missed all but three threes (10/13). It's also paramount to consider that even with that insane second quarter, the Warriors managed to keep it close till crunch time; it's highly likely that this kind of scoring outburst won't happen again from the Pelicans. Steve Kerr has shown a precedent of making fantastic adjustments from game-to-game against the same opponent; for this final Play-In game, the key thing I expect him to emphasize is points of turnovers. The Pelicans are long, athletic, and pesky, so merely going one-on-one and forcing passing in tight windows, which the Warriors were doing constantly in their most recent matchup, is simply not going to work. If the Warriors emphasize ball movement, high pick-and-roll actions (watch out for those Zion Williamson hedges though!), and their patented split-actions, I expect the Warriors to move on, facing the Thunder in the 2023-2024 NBA Playoffs. 

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