Following a 114-110 defeat against the 49-22 Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, the Golden State Warriors fell to a 36-34 record on the season. They are currently the Western Conference’s tenth seed (Minnesota is the third seed), 2.5 games behind the 39-32 Los Angeles Lakers. The 35-35 Houston Rockets, having now won eight consecutive contests (and nine of ten), are suddenly nipping at Golden State’s heels, and threatening to oust the 2022 league champs from the postseason picture entirely with the regular season racing towards its conclusion in just a few weeks.

Asked after the loss (Golden State’s second in a row and sixth in its last ten), star center/power forward Draymond Green seemed flippant about the prospect of being overtaken by Houston, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Green, the most vocal of the club’s three future Hall of Fame vets (alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), often sets the tone for how Golden State approaches its opposition. Take a look to hear his thoughts.

“I don’t give a damn about the Rockets,” Green claimed on Sunday, as the news emerged that the team had climbed to being just one game behind Golden State in the race for the Western Conference’s tenth seed, thanks to the Warriors loss. “We lose a lot of games that we should win,” Green said by way of explanation for the Warriors’ lackluster record to this point. “In this league you have to win games you’re supposed to win and steal a few that you’re not supposed to win.”

Draymond Green
Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after being ejected for a flagrant foul during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on December 12, 2023…

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The No. 12-seeded Utah Jazz, who at 29-42 are 6.5 games behind the Rockets with just 11 contests remaining in their season, seem to be pretty much out of the play-in race in the West. So, barring a Lakers collapse (LA trails the seventh- and eighth-seeded Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks, both 41-29, by 2.5 games), this race for the tenth seed ultimately seems to be between Golden State and Houston, with the latter team enjoying all the momentum. But the Warriors do boast an advantage over the Rockets in one key respect.

Per Tankathon, the Warriors have a significantly easier strength of schedule remaining for their final 12 games of the regular season. Their upcoming opponents have a cumulative .460 record, good for just the 25th-toughest (i.e. sixth-easiest) schedule in the league. Houston’s final 12 opponents this year, meanwhile, have a .516 win percentage, the 11th-toughest in the NBA. The Rockets are also without nominally their best player, third-year center Alperen Sengun. The 6’11” big man suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain on March 10th. But the team has made do by moving power forward Jabari Smith Jr. into the center spot for extended minutes (and even, occasionally, rookie small forward Amen Thompson), and his athleticism, along with the improved scoring of shooting guard Jalen Green (he’s been on fire since All-Star weekend), seems to have papered over Sengun’s absence, at least for now.