What Klay being out vs. Spurs means for Warriors, standings


SAN ANTONIO -- The Western Conference playoff standings are as tight as can be in the Warriors' race for the No. 3 seed, and Golden State will be without a red-hot Klay Thompson on Saturday night against the Spurs at AT&T Center. 

Since returning from a torn Achilles tendon, Thompson hasn't played both games of a back-to-back. However, he usually plays the first night and sits the second. That isn't the case this time. 

Steve Kerr said Thursday that he could switch up how he usually treats back-to-backs with several players, including Thompson. The good news for the Warriors is the five-time All-Star is the only player, aside from Steph Curry (out for the regular season) and James Wiseman (out for the season), who is on the injury report for Saturday night's game in San Antonio. That presumably means Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will miss Sunday night's game against the Pelicans in New Orleans, with Thompson returning. 

The bad news is Klay has caught fire in his last two games and the Warriors know how important their final two games are when it comes to playoff seedings. 

Klay has scored 69 points in his last two games, dropping 33 Thursday in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers and 36 one week ago in a victory against the Utah Jazz that clinched a playoff berth for the Warriors. That win and that performance vs. the Jazz was a reminder to the rest of the league how great this Warriors team still can be, and how hot in a hurry Klay can get, scoring 24 points in the second half after scoring just 13 total in his previous game.

Thompson hasn't played the Pelicans this season, and the last time he suited up for a game in New Orleans was Dec. 4, 2017, when he scored 22 points in a 10-point Warriors win. 

As far as the Western Conference standings go, the Warriors enter Saturday with a half-game lead on the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 3 seed. Here's where it gets complicated: The Warriors have two games left in the regular season, and the Mavs only have one. The Mavs hold the tiebreaker after beating the Warriors three out of four times this season. But Dallas will be without its best player, Luka Doncic after the superstar was hit with his 16th technical foul Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Win these final two games and the Warriors will get their wish of earning the highest seed possible for the playoffs and rolling into the postseason on a five-game win streak. Plus, it doesn't hurt getting Steph back for when the season truly begins. 

RELATED: What Kerr's vision of Spurs model could mean for Warriors

In San Antonio, the Warriors will need a strong scoring night from Jordan Poole, an efficient Andrew Wiggins and perhaps another player like Porter can provide some needed points. Will Poole start a new streak of scoring at least 20 points? 

Without Klay on the court, that could be the Warriors' recipe for success against the Spurs.

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