The Golden State Warriors officially clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night with an impressive and much-needed win over the Utah Jazz, 111-107. There’s still plenty to be determined in terms of seeding and matchups, but the Warriors have guaranteed at least a top-six seed in the Western Conference and will not have to go through the play-in tournament like last season.
For most of the game, it seemed like the Warriors would be heading towards yet another defeat. The Jazz built a 21-point lead in the second quarter, and were still cruising along with a 16-point advantage with seven minutes to play. From that point on, the Warriors outscored the Jazz, 24-4.
Klay Thompson, who has struggled at times since returning from his two-year absence, looked like his pre-injury self as he led the comeback. During a stunning 80-second stretch, Thompson hit three 3-pointers and Andrew Wiggins added another to nearly erase the deficit all at once.
“I know I can flip a switch just like that,” Thompson said. “I knew this year would have its ups and downs, and I just told myself yesterday that it’s one game and I will move on. I told Kenny Atkinson that I felt like I was going to have a big night tonight, and it came to fruition. I’m happy it did.”
Thompson made eight 3-pointers and poured in 36 points in one of his best games of the season, while Jordan Poole, who has stepped up in Steph Curry’s absence, added 31 points, six rebounds and six assists. He also hit the 3-pointer with 3:33 remaining that gave the Warriors the lead for good.
The Warriors admitted afterwards that they knew what was at stake with this game.
“Oh yeah, [we were] well aware,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “We didn’t talk about it a whole lot as a team, but the guys know. … I told it to the coaching staff, and Steph said it to a couple of the guys.”
This has been a rough stretch for the Warriors, who have been without Curry since he suffered a foot injury in their loss to the Boston Celtics on March 16. Including that game, they are just 2-7 since he went down. Coming into the matchup with the Jazz, they were on a four-game losing streak.
Coming out of the All-Star break, they may have had faint hopes of catching the Phoenix Suns for the top seed in the Western Conference. Now, they’re desperately trying to cling on to the No. 3 seed. As a result of this win they are alone in third and one game ahead of the fourth-place Dallas Mavericks with four games to play.