During the Warriors’ team meeting Monday morning, head coach Steve Kerr detailed what was at stake that night against the Pelicans: a chance to solidify Golden State’s spot in the play-in tournament.
But even though Kerr liked how his players responded to his short speech, he didn’t know whether their urgency come tip-off would match the game’s significance, his team having looked lethargic in high-stakes matchups far too often this season. By that measure, the Warriors showed progress as they opened inspired, weathered a couple of New Orleans rallies and left Smoothie King Center with a 123-108 win.
“This was an important game for us, and we had to come out and play like it,” forward Andrew Wiggins said. “We didn’t want any letdowns.”
Golden State — eighth in the Western Conference standings at 33-32 — is up four games on 11th-place New Orleans with just seven regular-season games left. The Warriors have struggled with consistency for four-plus months, but they’re on the brink of securing a spot in the play-in tournament to compete for the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs.
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The teams that finish Nos. 7-10 in each conference will participate in the play-in; those with the seventh- and eighth-best winning percentages will have two chances to win one game and earn a playoff berth. Clubs with the ninth- and 10th-best winning percentages must win two consecutive games to advance.
Had the Warriors lost…