The Golden State Warriors ended the regular season with a 44-38 record to avoid the play-in tournament and earn the West’s No. 6 seed, setting up a Northern California showdown with the No. 3 seeded Sacramento Kings in the first round.
The defending champions have ample playoff experience to their advantage after reaching the NBA Finals in six of the last eight years. But an up-and-down season that was compounded by injuries and inconsistency results in more questions than answers as they hope to repeat for the title.
Over at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Warriors have the fifth-best odds to win the 2023 NBA Finals at +950. Ahead of them are the Milwaukee Bucks (+265), Boston Celtics (+320), Phoenix Suns (+425), and Philadelphia 76ers (+900).
Why the Warriors will not win the 2023 NBA title
It’s hard to bet against the trio of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson when all three are healthy given that they have four championship rings. But Golden State’s inability to perform consistently away from Chase Center could prove to be their undoing in the postseason, where they have to win at least one game on the road.
The Warriors were a spectacular 33-8 at home, but that contrasted with a porous 11-30 record on the road. Is it possible for this team to win a championship if they can’t carry their play into an opposing team’s arena?
A significant factor of their struggles away from home was the absence of key pieces like forward Andrew Wiggins. As perhaps the team’s second-best defender, especially on the wing, questions surround his ability to acclimate back into the rotation after missing 23 straight games due to a family emergency. Wiggins rejoined the team but did not play in their final two regular-season games, and his return could force minutes changes to younger players like Jonathan Kuminga, who excelled in larger roles to close out the regular season.
The return of Gary Payton II gave Golden State’s defense a much-needed boost, but their 17th-ranked defensive rating (114.4) is also a factor of their younger players working through growing pains on both ends. Key contributors from last year’s title team, including Otto Porter Jr., departed in the offseason, and with it came the loss of potency on defense.
In the playoffs, where referees may opt to swallow the whistle and let the players play, the loss of veteran players on the defensive end could prove to bite the Warriors in the long run.