Lacob: 'I don't want to get too excited, but it's a big moment'
In the last 10 years, only one No. 7 seed has knocked off a No. 2 seed in the opening round of the playoffs. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Oklahoma City. At L.A. Lakers. San Antonio. At Portland. That’s the Warrior world right now. Oklahoma City. At L.A. Lakers. San Antonio. At Portland.
In the meantime, here is Houston’s world view. Memphis. Sacramento. At Phoenix. At L.A. Lakers.
The aggregate records, our eyes and logic tell us that Houston’s schedule is kinder and gentler, and by a fairly hefty piece. The Rockets’ last four opponents are 144-167; the Warriors’ are 188-122.
That suggests that if Houston can break even and the Warriors cannot, Golden State will end up a seven-seed rather than a six-, and preparing for Oklahoma City or San Antonio rather than Denver, Memphis or the Los Angeles Clippers.
[RATTO: Warriors fans still waiting to exhale]
This is an obvious cue to open up the “Merry Christmas To Us, New Year’s Day Is Gonna Suck” sentiment that could permeate the edges of The House That The Oakland Seals Built. Nobody in their right mind would prefer opening a series with Oklahoma City, or even San Antonio. Not even Mark Jackson, whose unswerving optimism mocks Rachel Maddow’s very chipper soul.
But it gets worse. The seven-seed is a trap door of diminished expectations trumped by even lower results. Since 1988, there have been 50 2-7 playoff series, and the 7 has won four of them. Four. Of 50. That’s a percentage of eight.
And games? The seven-seed has won 69 of 247, a percentage of .279, which is where dead-last-and-richly-earned-it Phoenix will be when it loses its last four games.
In other words, being the seven is being a prohibitive underdog by definition. Except for . . .
. . . wait for it . . .
. . . the Warriors.
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The Warriors won as a seven-seed in 1989, when Don Nelson was the essence of oddball creativity and had assembled the Run M (Mitch Richmond) and C (Chris Mullin), then did it again two years later when they found and promoted the T (Tim Hardaway). They swept Utah in ’89 before taking the pipe before Phoenix, and beat San Antonio 3-1 before getting hammered by the Lakers.
But neither D, T, M or C is coming through this particular door. The Western Conference of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s was mostly a foil for the Bad Boy Pistons and Jordan Bulls, while the new world order is Miami, then a bunch of western teams, than the Knicks.
But if you just want to go back the 10 years since every round became a best-of-seven series, only one team, the 2010 Spurs, got out of the first round, and then to be swept by Phoenix. That’s a five percent conversion rate, and a .247 winning percentage. That’s essentially exchanging the Suns for the Charlotte Bobcats.
In short, the Warriors have a game to steal among their final four, and the most likely victim of such a theft would seem to be the Lakers. Of course, applying that logic, the Rockets could do the same thing, finish 3-1 and still end up sixth.
Point is, the Warriors really, really, REALLY want to avoid finishing seventh. Really. Not just because the Thunder and Spurs are considerably better, but because history hates the seven-seed. And you do not mess with history, at least not without having Don Nelson’s cackling voice ringing in your ears.