Breaking down Warriors' 10-game stretch run to end 2021 NBA season

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Monte Poole
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Breaking down Warriors' 10-game stretch run to finish line originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Not once or twice or even five or six times have the Warriors been annihilated this season. Try 11. That’s how many games this newly prestigious franchise lost by at least 20 points, and they can’t get any of them back.

What they can do is make a case for those games being aberrations. With 11 losses accounting for nearly one-fifth of their games, it’s a difficult but still possible task. 

They have 10 games to prove that somewhere beneath all of that mediocrity is the team they’ve often claimed to be, the one constantly growing in search of the best of itself and unwilling to surrender.

Here is a game-by-game look at The Final 10, a slate of games that will determine whether the Warriors rise in the playoff race, stay near the bottom or fall completely out. Every game is within the Western Conference, and the last six are at Chase Center:

Thursday: At Timberwolves

Minnesota (19-44) has been wretched most of the season, with losing streaks of nine and seven games and two of four games. On the surface, this is a victory. Below the surface, the Warriors are in for a fight. The Timberwolves made a coaching change in February, finally are healthy and have won five of their last seven -- including twice beating the potent Jazz. Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and rookie Anthony Edwards at the center of the offense, they’ve averaged 115.8 points over the last five games.

Chance of victory: 6 (on a 1-10 scale)

Saturday: At Rockets

With John Wall as a part-timer, Houston (15-47) was the worst team in the league. Now it appears Wall (hamstring) likely is done of the season, making the Rockets a team with intriguing young talent but far and away the worst team in the league. If the Warriors can’t win this one, they should consider forfeiting the final eight games.

Chance of victory: 9.5

Monday and Tuesday: At Pelicans

The final back-to-back road set of the season for the Warriors, and they get their first look at Zion Williamson & Co. in New Orleans. The Pelicans (27-35) are moving toward an offseason with significant roster changes. Meanwhile, the offense is stagnant and the defense alternates from decent to atrocious. The key for the Warriors may be going easy on the good eats.

Chance of a split: 5

Chance of a sweep: 5

Thursday/Saturday, May 6-8: Vs. Thunder

After their final road trip of the season, the Warriors return home to a cushy two-game set against a team that went 1-15 in April. The vet, Al Horford, is collecting paychecks to sit. The best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, has missed seven weeks with plantar fasciitis and there’s no point in rushing back. Any game OKC (21-41) wins will be by accident.

Chance of a split: 9.3

Chance of a sweep: 9.7

Monday, May 10: Vs. Jazz

This one is tricky. Utah (45-17) is a vastly superior team but has only a split in the first two meetings. There is little question the Warriors will have something at stake, but there is a slim chance the Jazz will have secured the No. 1 overall seed. If so, Quin Snyder can coach as he would an exhibition game. If not, and this is more likely, the Warriors have a quite the mountain to climb.

Chance of victory: 4

RELATED: D-Wade explains aspects of Steph's game that he loves

 

Tuesday, May 11: Vs. Suns

Even at home, facing the top two teams in the conference -- in the final week, no less -- is a wicked back-to-back. The battle between the Jazz and Suns to claim the top seed could be in full effect. The Warriors have to hope otherwise. In two games against Phoenix (44-18), the Warriors have a 22-point loss and a 21-point loss. And those were in the first half of the season, before the Suns were fighting for position.

Chance of victory: 3

Friday, May 14: Vs. Pelicans

By now, we expect the New Orleans players to be peeking -- not peaking -- ahead to vacations, with the front office brainstorming ways to move Eric Bledsoe while revamping the roster. Wins and losses won’t matter much. The Warriors would hope to be peaking -- not peeking -- as they enter the postseason.

Chance of victory: 8.5

Sunday, May 16: Vs. Grizzlies

Game 72, of 72, will matter. Of course, it will. Memphis (31-30) is in eighth place and trying to beat the odds and get to seventh, or even sixth. We’ve seen enough of Ja Morant to know he is all dawg, fearless as a tiger with an empty stomach. After barely missing the postseason in the bubble, the Grizzlies are the epitome of young and crazy enough to believe they belong in the playoffs. It’ll be a fight, but the Warriors have the best player on the floor.

Chance of victory: 7.5

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