Steph having ‘mad fun' in playoff-like games down stretch

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The Warriors know they’re at their best when everything is on the line, and they have four NBA titles across the last eight seasons to prove it.

And now, as they try to avoid the play-in tournament and earn an outright playoff berth across the 2022-23 NBA season’s final stretch, Steph Curry feels right at home.

“All we want is a shot at – one, to stay out of the play-in – but a shot at a playoff series, because we feel like it brings the best out of us, and the conversation around each game is what it is, but it’s, again, that playoff-type feeling and expectation where every game is just an emotional wave that you’re on,” Curry told reporters after Golden State’s comeback 120-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday at Chase Center.

“Positively and negatively, you’ve just got to find a way through it. I don’t know if that’s anything to compare it to, but it’s mad fun right now, to be honest, knowing that we’re trying to get to the finish line with an opportunity to be the Warriors in the playoffs.”

For weeks now, it feels like every Warriors game has had playoff implications – and that’s because they have in the ultra-tight Western Conference. But with just five regular-season games remaining, the need to win is as imperative as ever for the No. 6-seeded Warriors.

That energy was palpable on Golden State’s home court Tuesday, as the team rallied from a 20-point deficit to defeat the Pelicans and hold onto the West’s sixth and final postseason spot – for now. 

If the NBA playoffs began today, the Warriors would face the No. 3 Sacramento Kings in the first round, who they’re 2-1 against this season.

After beating New Orleans on Tuesday, Golden State now has a 92 percent chance to make the playoffs, an 11 percent chance to make the 2023 NBA Finals and a four percent chance at winning the Finals, per FiveThirtyEight. Just to refresh, the same model gave the Dubs a seven percent chance to win it all last season after they already had made the West finals.

RELATED: Warriors' fate over final stretch lies with Steph, Draymond

The Warriors are used to adversity and outside doubt, and Tuesday’s win proved they still have championship DNA despite the ups and downs of this season. But, there’s still plenty of work to do.

And Curry is going to have fun getting it done.

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