Despite some recent off-court distractions, the Golden State Warriors remain focused on clinching their second straight playoff berth.
The Warriors seek a third consecutive victory Thursday night, while the Denver Nuggets will try to avoid losing seven straight road games for the first time in nine seasons.
Sixth in the Western Conference, Golden State (48-29) is in position to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1990-91 and ’91-92. Though the Warriors are one game ahead of seventh-place Dallas and 1 1/2 up on eighth-place Phoenix, they’re two games back of Portland, which sits fifth.
However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Warriors as an organization of late.
Management fired assistant coach Darren Erman on Saturday for "a violation of company policy," but declined to reveal any details. Coach Mark Jackson also reassigned assistant Brian Scalabrine to the team’s NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz on March 25 because of what Jackson called a "difference in philosophies."
Jackson’s own job security and his relationship with ownership continues to be an off-court topic, yet he believes his time in the Bay Area will go beyond this season.
Through it all, though, the Warriors haven’t wavered much.
"There have been some things that happened off the floor that happen in all professional organizations," center Andrew Bogut said. "It’s obviously none of (the media’s) business, none of the fans’ business, no one’s business outside of our organization. It’s a team thing that stays in-house. We’re still winning games."
The only number that matters is victories, and the Warriors surpassed their 47-win total from last season and are in position to reach 50 for the first time since 1993-94.
Klay Thompson scored 33 points and Stephen Curry played through an illness to finish with 31 and 16 assists as Golden State set a season high for points in Sunday’s 130-102 win over Utah. The Warriors shot 57.8 percent, including 17 of 33 from 3-point range, while maintaining their focus on the court.
"If you pay attention to the chatter, then you lose sight of what’s taking place," Jackson said. "If it was great noise around here, our chatter is irrelevant. The numbers speak for themselves."
Thompson has averaged 24.0 points on 54.7 percent shooting in the last four games. He scored 21 during a 123-116 home loss to Denver (34-44) on Jan. 15 that evened the season series.
The Nuggets are 4-16 on the road since then and have allowed an average of 112.3 points during their current six-game skid away from home. Denver last dropped seven straight on the road as part of an eight-game slide in 2004-05.
However, the Nuggets will try to build on Wednesday’s 123-116 home win over Houston. Randy Foye had 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 15 assists, while Kenneth Faried scored 23 and Timofey Mozgov added 22 as Denver shot 49.5 percent to win for the second time in eight contests.
Averaging 12.7 points on the season, Foye has topped 20 in two of the last three games. He had 21 on 8-of-12 shooting at Golden State in January.