W's schedule a call for optimism?

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W's schedule a call for optimism?

Mike Kreuser
CSNBayArea.com

The road to the playoffs in the NBA is pretty simple. Your schedule is made up of games you are supposed to win, and games you aren’t supposed to win. The key is taking care of business in as many of the former as possible while stealing as many of the latter as you can.

So far the Warriors have done well in both categories. They had letdowns November 5th in Sacramento and on December 3rd at home against the Magic, but ground out wins against Phoenix, Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Washington, and Charlotte.

[RELATED: Ratto - Surging Warriors ratchet up expectations]

On the other side of the coin, the Warriors are making a brand out of winning games they probably shouldn’t. They beat the Clippers and Mavericks on the second game of back-to-backs on the road. They swept the season series against a strong Brooklyn team.

Beating Miami in Miami in the midst of a 5 game road win streak? That is a different kind of win. Now there is not a game on the schedule that feels unwinnable. Miami played well, but the Warriors played better.

Up to this point the schedule has been kind to the Warriors. In Golden State’s first 22 games, their combined opponent win% is 48.0. In their next 5 games, the Blue & Gold have a great opportunity to pad their win total against a combined 38.8 win% (including 4 of the worst 9 teams in the NBA).

[REWIND: Instant replay -- Warriors 97, Miami 95]

After the next 5, the Warriors enter the toughest stretch of their schedule. 11 of their next 15 games are against teams above .500. The combined win % of those opponents is 58.2. 

Before beating Miami, that stretch seemed a likely place for the Warriors to come back to earth after their scorching start. Now? Well, nine of those games are at home, five are against teams they have already beat, the Lakers are struggling, the Celtics aren’t what they once were, etc.

Optimism abounds.

Since the Warriors missed the playoffs with 48 wins in 07-08, the average win % of the 6-8 seeds has been 59.5. That percentage translates to around 49 wins. To reach that total, the Warriors need to win 34 of their final 60 games. 

Two days ago, the next 20 games looked like a make-or-break stretch for the Warriors. Now it looks like an opportunity to not only solidify their spot in the playoff race, but presents a chance to challenge the top quarter of the league. 

Mike Kreuser is a production assistant at Comcast SportsNet. You can follow him on twitter: @MikeKreuser

Did Kendrick Lamar take shot at Kevin Durant on latest single?

Did Kendrick Lamar take shot at Kevin Durant on latest single?

Hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar's new album "The Heart Part 4" drops on April 7, but his lyrics are already making waves.

Lamar, who hails from Compton, California, appears to take a shot at Kevin Durant for his decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors this past offseason in free agency.

From the single titled "IV":

     Tables turned, lessons learned, my best look
     You jumped sides on me, now you 'bout to meet Westbrook
     Go celebrate with your team and let victory vouch you
     Just know the next game played, I might slap the s--- out you
     Technical foul, I'm flagrant, I'm foul
     They throwin' me out, you throw in the towel

If the Warriors face the Thunder again this season, it will be in a playoff series. Golden State swept Oklahoma City 4-0 during the regular season, winning 122-96 on Nov. 3, 121-100 on Jan. 18, 130-114 on Feb. 11, and 111-95 on March 20

Their average margin of victory was just under 20.

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

Warriors guard Livingston begins turnaround after shooting dry spell

OAKLAND -- Amid the recovery mission that followed the absence of Kevin Durant, as every Warrior eventually pitched in, Shaun Livingston stood virtually alone as someone who wasn’t doing his part.

The Warriors, and Livingston, would like to believe that is about to change.

When Livingston made 3-of-4 shots in a 112-87 rout of the Mavericks on Tuesday night, it was the first time he shot higher than 50 percent on multiple shots since Feb. 28, the day Durant went down with a knee injury.

“You go through slumps,” Livingston said after practice Thursday. “Fortunately for me, I’ve played long enough to know. You keep shooting. Keep pushing forward, good things will happen.”

As the Warriors lost that game at Washington, and four of the next six, Livingston’s usually reliable midrange game disappeared. In the first 10 full games since Durant was sidelined, Livingston shot 18.8 percent (6-of-32).

So his teammates did the heavy lifting. Andre Iguodala excelled as the steady vet. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green dipped and then came hard. Stephen Curry climbed out of his rut and started dancing again. The big men -- Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and David West -- were titanic. Pat McCaw, Ian Clark, Matt Barnes and James Michael McAdoo filled in the gaps.

They had to, because Livingston the most reliable shooter on the team was nowhere to be found.

“We all want to play the best that we can,” Livingston said. “But the reality is it doesn’t work that way all the time.”

On Tuesday, for the first time this month, Livingston looked like himself. He was the guy who shot 55.6 percent in October, 54.4 percent in November, 57.6 percent in December, 58.9 percent in January and 54.1 percent in February.

“It was good for Shaun to see the ball go in the rim,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s had such a great year shooting the ball, and then the last couple weeks he hit a dry spell. Which is going to happen to everybody.”

The “dry spell” was shocking, because it was Livingston. He’s in the final weeks of his third season with the Warriors, and throughout that time there was only one month in which he shot less that 49 percent (47.5 in March 2015). Signed in July 2014 to be the team’s No. 3 guard and primary backup to Curry, Livingston is shooting 51.9 percent in his Warriors career.

The Warriors would like to think he’s ready, once again, to do his part.

“Last game was good for him, just to make a few and see the ball go in,” Kerr said. “I’m confident he’ll get it going.”