Just to keep tabs on this as the Warriors head down the final 21-game stretch...
- Because there are multiple teams involved, multiple seedings available, and multiple-upon-multiple scenarios that can and will play out, you can't do an official Magic Number countdown for the Warriors' playoff hopes right now.
Too many variables to do it officially or truly accurately.
But so what? I'm not in any way an official anything (thank goodness) and I'm doing a GSW Magic Number countdown anyway, with the best estimation and clearest line for the GSWs, from here to one of the Western Conference's eight playoff spots.
My subjective, unmathematical conclusion: The clearest line for the Warriors is to simply beat out the Lakers in the final standings. If they do that, the Warriors should be in the West playoffs.
That is unofficial for the playoffs, mind you, (because you also have to consider all the other teams, especially current No. 10 seed Portland, to do it officially), but this is the way I'm doing it, just to give an indication of how far or close the Warriors might be getting to the postseason.
But back to my premise: The Warriors' magic number for finishing ahead of the Lakers is 18. Any combination of 18 Golden State wins and L.A. losses that add up to 18 will guarantee that the Warriors finish ahead of the Lakers in the standings.
That is true, that is a real thing, it's just not necessarily directly related to the playoffs (where you have to factor in Utah, Houston, Portland and others) but I'm making it so.
Eighteen sounds like a big number, but with both the Warriors and Lakers having 21 games left to play, and both playing tonight, it's really not a huge tally, in the long view.
If the Warriors play decently during this next stretch — six more home games in a row, including tonight vs. Sacramento (with the Kings on a back-end of a home/road back-to-back) -- and with only six road games left, they could gobble up a lot of the magic number pretty quickly...
Meanwhile, the Lakers have some tough sledding ahead, including a three-game Orlando-Atlanta-Indy trip next week.
The Lakers lost last night in Oklahoma City (which dropped the magic number to 18) and play in New Orleans on a back-to-back tonight with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard a little banged up.
Nine of the Lakers' next 14 games are on the road (the LALs are currently 10-20 on the road), including a potentially very big March 25 game at Oracle. By then, the Golden State magic number should be in single-digits.
By the way, I'm not factoring in Portland (currently one game behind the Lakers and 5 behind the Warriors) for a few reasons, but the Warriors' magic number vs. Portland, if you want to know, is also 18.
One of the reasons I'm not yet factoring in Portland: The Trail Blazers have been struggling badly and now play eight of their next 11 on the road, with some real tough ones.
If Portland (currently 8-21 on the road) survives that stretch without dropping totally out of this, then I'll start factoring them in. My guess: The Blazers will probably be all but out of it by the time they play at Oracle on March 30.
For more on Tim's thoughts, follow him on Twitter at @TimKawakami