Four Warriors bold NBA playoffs, play-in tournament predictions

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Four Warriors bold playoff predictions with surprising upset originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Forever a man of the people, Steph Curry gave everyone what they wanted ... with a little help from the hobbled Los Angeles Lakers.

The Warriors ran the table over their final six games, with Curry going nuclear in the season finale against the Grizzlies, to set up a much-anticipated battle with LeBron James and Co. in the play-in tournament.

On Wednesday, the two rivals will face off at Staples Center with the winner clinching the No. 7 seed in the NBA playoffs and a date with the Phoenix Suns. The loser will be sent to a win-or-go-home battle with either the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs for the right to be the No. 8 seed.

Having the Lakers and Warriors potentially earning the seven and eight seeds is a tough break for the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, the top seeds in the West, who could get rewarded for their stellar regular seasons by facing either the defending champions or scalding-hot Curry in Round 1. Sometimes the world isn't fair.

With the play-in games beginning Tuesday and the playoffs starting in earnest Saturday, here are four bold predictions for how the Warriors' season will end.

No Contest In LA

All the pregame hoopla goes out the window rather quickly in Southern California as the full-strength Lakers flex their muscles early on.

Curry does what he can to keep the Warriors close with Golden State putting Andre Drummond in a ton of action to get Curry open looks. Once Frank Vogel staples Drummond to the bench and opts to play Anthony Davis at the five, it's more or less a wrap.

The Lakers blitz and swarm Curry relentlessly, daring the Warriors' role players to knock down shots to keep them in the game. Curry's teammates go cold, James tallies a triple-double and the Lakers cruise to a 105-87 win. Curry scores 31 points on 29 shots and the Warriors head back home to face the Grizzlies with their season on the line.

Steph To The Rescue

In a redux of Sunday's season finale against the Grizzlies, Curry puts on his cape and smolders the young Grizzlies from the opening tip. Curry scores 19 in the first half but Ja Morant (14) and Dillon Brooks (14) keep Memphis close as the Warriors lead 52-46 at the break.

With their season on the brink, Curry does what is necessary to ensure the Warriors get on a plane to Salt Lake City.

Curry pours in 30 second-half points, including seven 3-pointers, and the Warriors pull away and coast to a 103-90 win, grabbing the eighth seed in the process.

Do You Believe?

The Jazz were the most consistent team all season when healthy, but Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley both missed a chunk of games down the stretch with different ailments. The Warriors showed they have the formula to beat the Jazz in the season's final week, but things should be different with Mitchell and Conley back.

After years of being the top dog, Draymond Green has said the Warriors were happy to be "hunters" again, and Golden State strikes first blood in Utah, with Andrew Wiggins (28) and Jordan Poole (17) helping Curry (34) steal home-court advantage.

The Jazz respond with a blowout win in Game 2 and squeak out a win in Game 3 with Mitchell scoring 41 to give them the series lead. After tough shooting nights in Games 2 and 3, Curry goes off for 44 in Game 4 to tie the series and knocks down a game-winning 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds left in Game 5 to put the Jazz on the brink.

With Utah feeling the pressure, the Jazz crumble down the stretch in Game 6 and Green seals the series win with a game-saving block at the rim on Rudy Gobert with under 20 seconds to go. "We Believe 2.0" these Warriors are not, but Curry and Green spring the upset and move on to face the Los Angeles Clippers in Round 2.

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That's All, Folks

Making the second round is more than anyone thought possible at the beginning of April, and the Warriors' postseason run comes to a screeching halt against the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George lead the Clippers to two easy wins to open the series with Curry struggling against the combined defense of Patrick Beverley, Leonard and George. The Warriors show heart in Game 3, squeaking out a 104-101 win, but the Clippers win the next two games handily to send the Warriors into the offseason.

Curry averages 28.3 points in the series but struggles from 3-point range and gets little help from his teammates as the Warriors clearly are overmatched.

The playoff run gives Curry and the Warriors confidence heading into the offseason. The Warriors know they need to make some tweaks to the roster and perhaps a big swing is in order. But with Klay Thompson set to return and Curry still very much in his prime, the Warriors aren't going anywhere.

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