Warriors coach Mark Jackson has a lot of go-to sayings and often tempers expectations for his team with: “We are not the Miami Heat, we are not the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
No one is going to dispute that, but if the Warriors expect to hang on to the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference standings, a win against the Thunder at Oracle Arena on Thursday would be nearly essential.
For guard Stephen Curry, keeping the sixth seed isn’t as much about the first-round matchup it would setup as much as it’d be an indicator of how the Warriors finished the season.
“If we keep that six seed that means we probably won three of our last four and are playing good basketball,” Curry said.
After hosting Oklahoma City Thursday, the Warriors (45-33) play at the Lakers, home against San Antonio and at Portland. If they are able to navigate their way to three wins in that stretch, their prospects in the postseason would look significantly brighter.
“(Finishing strong) goes hand-in-hand with us being where we want to be going into our first series,” Curry said.
For Oklahoma City (57-21), Golden State might be the last true test in its last four games. Winners of seven of their last nine, the Thunder -- tied with San Antonio for the best record in the West -- doesn’t play a team with a winning record in its final three games.
As the Thunder chase the No. 1 seed, star Kevin Durant (28.3 ppg) remains in the hunt for his fourth straight scoring title with the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (28.6). If he were to overpass Anthony for the title, Durant would join Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to win a scoring title at least four years in a row.
Despite the historical significance, Durant doesn’t seem to be too interested.
“Don’t get me wrong, I never want to take stuff like that for granted, but if it happens, it happens,” Durant told NBA.com. “I’m just going to play my game. I’m not going to force it too much and think about it too much and try to get it. But if it’s meant to be then it will happen.”
Durant won’t the only one flirting with history Thursday as Curry remains within striking distance of the single-season three-point record. At 249 made threes this year, Curry is 20 back of Ray Allen’s record (269) from the 2005-06 season.
Without factoring in the 18 threes he hit in back-to-back games in late February -- which included his 11-three, 54-point game against the Knicks -- Curry has two four-game runs this season in which his three-point total equaled 20 or more.
He’s averaged 3.4 threes per game this season and totaled 13 in the past four games.