By Jay Cipoletti
Golden State's recent play has positioned them as a legit contender to make a deep playoff run ... except that it isn't all that recent.
In the mythical Pythagorean Standings published four weeks ago, the Warriors were 37-19, three games ahead of their actual 34-22 record. They have gone 10-4 since then, raising their record to 44-26. In win percentage terms, they won 60.7% of their games through February 24th, and 71.4% of their games since.
That suggests a significant improvement in play, when the reality is their Net Rating has remained virtually the same. Over their current run, their Net Rating of 6.2 amounts to an improvement of roughly 1 point per game (1.2 points per 100 possessions) over their Net Margin of 5.0 through their first 56 games.
A look at Golden State's Four Factors confirms that not much has changed recently compared to their season as a whole. There have been slight improvements in free effective field goal percentage (up 1%) and turnover ratio (down 1.5%), their free throw rate has remained the same and their offensive rebounding percentage has dropped (down 2%). Nothing that would indicate a drastic improvement at first glance.
The end result is that with 12 games remaining, their record of 44-26 has them sixth in the West, while their Pythagorean Wins record of 47-23 would have them a game behind the third-place Clippers in the win column.
Will their incrementally better play be enough to move them into fifth in the West? Golden State fans probably hope so – the Warriors' current first-round matchup would be with the Clippers, whose 14.6 Net Margin over the last month is 2nd only to the Spurs.