With a Warriors win and a loss by either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Utah Jazz, the Warriors will officially clinch a spot in the 2013 Playoffs. Golden State currently resides in the sixth seed of the Western Conference standings with just a one game lead over the Houston Rockets.
Houston faces the Phoenix Suns with the chances to clinch a playoff berth of their own. The Rockets own the tiebreaker over the Warriors due to winning the season series 3-1. It is a must win for both teams.
However, the Warriors, who blew an opportunity to wrap up a playoff spot in a 97-90 loss to Utah on Sunday, will be facing a Timberwolves team that has won four of its last five games and has steadily improved over the course of the season. Led by a healthy Ricky Rubio, the Wolves are finally hitting stride and playing the way experts predicted that they would. Second year center Nikola Pekovic has had a breakout season, averaging 16.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Wolves.
The Warriors are looking for their sixth straight victory over the T-Wolves, but they will need a big effort from Andrew Bogut in stopping Pekovic and the rest of the Minnesota bigs. Bogut has slowly but surely improved over the past months, but he has yet to reach the level of play that the Warriors and their fans had hoped for when trading for him. A big night from Bogut would be a huge step for a Golden State team that looks to compete with the elite teams of the NBA.
The matchup of Stephen Curry and Ricky Rubio will be a must see. They are two of the most exciting and unique players in the league and have each been hitting stride with ease as of late. Curry has averaged 25.9 points and 8.2 assists while shooting nearly 48% over his past 10 games. In Rubio’s last 10 games, he has averaged 14.5 points and 8.8 assists.
With the Warriors still controlling their own destiny, it is important that they are able to win, clinch a playoff berth, and remain in the 6th seed that they have held onto for the better part of the season. Tonight will be a big night at Oracle Arena.
You can follow Rich Peters on twitter @Tricky_Roma.