Will Warriors finish ahead of Minnesota, Phoenix?

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Will Warriors finish ahead of Minnesota, Phoenix?

This is part 2 of a three-part series in which NBA Insider Matt Steinmetz takes a look at the six Western Conference teams the Warriors will be competing with for the final two spots in the playoffs.

Keep in mind that Steinmetz is assuming Oklahoma City, L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, Memphis, San Antonio, and Denver will hold down the top six spots in the Western Conference, and that the Warriors will definitely finish ahead of Sacramento and New Orleans.

Part 1 compared the Warriors to the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.

Part 3 will pit the Warriors against Portland and Utah (coming Tuesday morning).

Minnesota TimberwolvesWhile the Timberwolves roster is intriguing, its also a little bit unknown. Their best player, Kevin Love, can stuff the boxscore with stats but he is still working on making teammates better.Many wonder whether a team with Love as its best player can be successful.Love had a terrific season in 2011-12, but his effectiveness and efficiency went down when point guard Ricky Rubio got hurt. Rubio wont be ready by the start of the regular season, and thats a factor for a team thats going to need a lot to go right to make the postseason.The hope is Rubio will be back around December and for the T-Wolves sake he better be. The T-Wolves were 21-19 when Rubio went down with injury; they finished the season 26-40.Minnesota also needs Brandon Roy to resemble the player he once was and for Andrei Kirilenko to do the same.Can the T-Wolves make the playoffs? Yes, but its not going to be easy. What do you think?Phoenix SunsReports of the Suns demise have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, they lost Steve Nash and thats going to hurt, but Phoenixs roster has no shortage of legitimate players.Goran Dragic is no Nash, but hes not bad, either. And having rookie Kendall Marshall backing him up is a nice little combination. What the Suns also have is size on the interior in Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola, a notorious Warriors killer. And if Jermaine ONeal can give the Suns anything, it will be a bonus.What the Suns did do this offseason is overpay for Michael Beasley, giving him a three-year, 18 million deal. But when you throw Beasley alongside Jared Dudley, Shannon Brown, Markieff Morris and Wes Johnson, you realize that the Suns didnt drop off the map.Phoenix went 33-33 a season ago, and its not out of the realm of possibility they could hover around .500 this upcoming season. But the question is: Do they have enough to make the playoffs?

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

David West is coming up big for the Warriors

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.

Warriors set franchise record, match 1985-86 Showtime Lakers

Warriors set franchise record, match 1985-86 Showtime Lakers

BOX SCORE

For the 44th time in the 2016-17 season, the Warriors dished out 30-plus assists in one game. Not only does that set a franchise record, Golden State is also the first to do so since one of the greatest teams in NBA history. 

On a Steph Curry heave down the court that resulted in an Andre Iguodala running reverse dunk with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, the Warriors made history with their 31st assist of the game. The nifty assist made the Warriors the first team since the 1985-86 Showtime Lakers to hand out more than 30 assists 44 times in one season.

Last season, when the Warriors set an NBA record record with 73 wins, the team finished 43 games with the feat.

The '85-86 Lakers were looking to repeat as NBA champions 31 years ago but came up short in five games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. 

Golden State finsihed Friday night with 37 assists in a 114-100 win over the Kings. Curry led the way with 12 dimes.