With a push for a second title in mind, the Warriors have an easy solution when it comes to resting their key players. And their plan doesn't require sacrificing their pursuit of the NBA record for regular-season wins: blow out teams the first three quarters, rest in the fourth. It is the same formula the Warriors have employed for a nice chunk of the Steve Kerr era.
One small problem, though. They can't seem to blow out teams these days.
The spirited, intense overtime win at Utah was the fourth consecutive game the Warriors found themselves fighting to win. Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and the Jazz all had the Warriors scared enough to have Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson in the games down the stretch.
Friday, Boston comes to town -- another inferior team but one that gave the Warriors problems last meeting -- and the odds of heavy garbage minutes seem slim. If the 76ers can force Curry back into the game, the Celtics might be a real threat to break the Warriors' NBA record home win streak.
Should fans be worried about this not-quite-sharp, susceptible version of the Warriors? Is the fact they aren't world beaters an indication the playoffs will be difficult?
No. And no.
The Warriors are still in a good spot to hoist another Larry O'Brien Trophy. Actually, this recent stretch is more confirmation than concerning.
Granted, last year they headed into April with a 10-game winning streak, the last four being road games against playoff teams. And this year, they closed March with six straight -- five of them nail-biters.
But even with the games being tighter this year, the results are the same. And that reality is impressive when these contexts are added to the equation.
Last March, the Warriors went 16-2 while fully healthy. This March: 15-2 while missing valuable players.
This is a good sign for the postseason. The Warriors are showing a championship resolve in March. They are winning games while playing guys who may not sniff the court in the postseason.
The intensity ratchets up in the playoffs. If they refuse to lose now, how much more desperate will they play in the second season? What this team is showing is how ready it is to handle challenges.
Of their 15 losses last season, seven were to teams that finished with at least 50 wins. That was the uncertainty heading into the postseason: whether as top-tier newcomers they could hang with the established powers.
This year, the only top team the Warriors have lost to is San Antonio. The best record of the other six teams to beat the Warriors is Detroit's 40-35.
The point: The Warriors have issues only with teams that make them yawn. They play to the level of their competition but are so good that it scarcely burns them.
The postseason weeds out the uninspiring lulls of the regular season. Every game is a big game, and the Warriors LOVE those games. Maybe the first round might bore them. That's unlikely, though. Which means you'll be getting the Warriors squad we see against the Clippers, not the one against Philadelphia.
The games are coming rapidly, often back-to-back, and some odd traveling patterns have served as ankle weights for the Dubs.
All that is out in the playoffs. No two games in two nights. No playing after 3 a.m. arrivals in different time zones. Some of these games will have two days between them, as the NBA stretches out its greatest show.
Utah plays big and slows down the game. Dallas chucks a bunch of 3s and sometimes gets hot. Boston plays exceptional half-court defense and makes fluidity hard to find.
The playoffs are all about matchups. So whoever is a problem for the Warriors will be even if the Warriors are rested. The only thing we learned from the overtime win at Utah is what we already knew: The style the Jazz employs is contrary to the Warriors', and if Utah is on its game, it will pose some resistance.
However, the Warriors are not pulling out the stops yet. They aren't changing rotations and preying on weaknesses. In the playoffs last year, they had a counter to everything. That hasn't changed.
Obviously, injuries change the scope of everything. If the Warriors don't get their key players off the shelf, things will be much harder. But Iguodala and Ezeli, according to Kerr, are in line to return by the playoffs.
So whoever the Warriors face will have to deal with a motivated team armed with a thorough game plan on a schedule that allows for rest.
It's not the Warriors you should be worried about.