The Warriors have slipped closer to the ‘other end of the standings’ they never thought they’d see

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — All Steph Curry could do was watch from the Golden State bench during a takeover led by Minnesota’s subs early in the fourth quarter.

The Warriors have slipped into precarious position for the postseason, and they’re having a hard time finding their footing in this unfamiliar spot.

Starting a five-games-in-eight-days trip, coach Steve Kerr exercised caution with his 10-time All-Star point guard by extending the 36-year-old’s rest period well into the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves, coincidentally or not, had a plus-12 advantage during his last absence of the game on Sunday.

By the time Curry checked back in with 6:54 to go, the Warriors trailed by eight points. They fell 114-110 to the Wolves, their sixth loss in their last nine games. In a 12-point loss at home to Indiana on Friday, Curry played 35 minutes.

“We’ve got great players out there, so we can’t expect to just ride Steph game after game after game. These last few weeks have been really tough on him. We’ve put the burden of this franchise on his shoulders for 15 years. We can’t expect him to play 35 minutes,” Kerr said. “If you want to say that him playing 30 minutes instead of 32 is the difference in a win and a loss, I totally disagree with that. We’re trying to win the game. We’re trying to keep him fresh too.”

Curry acknowledged some mild surprise by his slightly extended stay on the bench, but he also seemed to realize the bigger picture Kerr was alluding to.

“I played the whole fourth quarter against Indiana — that didn’t work out. This didn’t work out. So we’ve got to find somewhere in the middle,” Curry said with a slight smile.

The Warriors (36-34) are just one game ahead of surging Houston for 10th place in the Western Conference and a spot in the play-in tournament.

“The situation will define itself pretty clearly, and it is kind of in real time,” Curry said. “Every game matters. We’re inching closer to the other end of the standings that we never thought we’d be in, so nobody’s going to wave the white flag and say you’re mailing it in. If that means playing more minutes, then I’ll be ready to do that.”

This has been a trying season on and off the court for the Warriors, who dealt with two suspensions for sparkplug Draymond Green and then the sudden death of assistant coach Dejan Milojević. They seem awfully far away from their fourth NBA title in eight years that they won in 2022.

“In order to win you have to build good habits,” Green said. “I don’t think we have great habits.”

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