OAKLAND — With just five regular-season games standing between the Warriors and the post-season, the number three is all that matters.
Three is the magic number for Golden State. In order to clinch a playoff berth any combination of Warriors wins and Memphis losses to equal three will seal the deal.
Ensuring a spot isn’t good enough though for star-guard Stephen Curry who told SFBay winning all of the remaining games is what he wants:
“We know where we are and we still have five left and we want to take care of those. We need every single one of them to one, secure our spot and two, to continue to find that in-sync rhythm that we need going into the playoffs and to just feel good about ourselves.”
Three is the number of assistant coaches the Warriors will be heading into the playoffs with, despite starting the season with two more.
With the reassignment of Brian Scalabrine and the mysterious dismissal of Darren Erman, the success or failure of the Warriors is more than ever in the hands of head coach Mark Jackson who is in his — you guessed it — third year at the helm.
Three is the number of victories Golden State, currently 48-29, needs to become the winningest regular season Warriors since the 1991-92 team finished with a 55-27 record.
Finally, with three days off between the Warriors’ victory over Utah and the final five-game stretch of the season, Golden State has three injuries that are weighing heavily and hoping the short break will allow time to rest and heal.
First and foremost, David Lee, who has missed six consecutive games with a strained right hamstring, had an MRI that showed nerve inflammation, restricting Lee from practicing with the team.
Jackson said Lee is not likely to play on Thursday against Denver. Though his return date is questionable, the Warriors have adjusted without Lee, going 4-2 since his hamstring injury.
Andrew Bogut (pelvic contusion) and Andre Iguodala (knee tendonitis) have returned to the lineup which is a good sign, for now. But the 7-foot Aussie center Bogut has proven to be injury prone, and the level of physicality in games is only going to intensify from this point on.
Festus Ezeli has become yet another enigma in the injury world. Far past his expected six- to nine-month recovery time after knee surgery, Ezeli hasn’t returned to live practice with the team.
Jackson told SFBay Ezeli is getting closer to healthy continuing to ramp up individual workouts. But when SFBay asked Jackson if he expects Ezeli to return at all, his response was unsure:
“I hope so. He’ll have to get on the floor and do something live, competitively, before he’s in an in-game situation.”
The Warriors are at home against Denver on Thursday, on the road for Lakers (Friday) and Trail Blazers (Sunday), with their final home game coming Monday against Minnesota, and rounding out the season in Denver April 16.