Editor's note: Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
The 25-game run to the finish line starts tonight, as the Warriors come out of the All-Star break playing the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena. A Warriors-Kings matchup as the 1-seed versus 8-seed to start the playoffs would be a lot of fun, as both teams play at a fast pace, move in transition, and fire from deep.
But before we start projecting potential 8-seed matchups, the Warriors need to finish off the rest of the season strong to secure the top spot in the West.
Since Steve Kerr took over the Warriors, this is how the team has finished the season after the All-Star break:
Last season, the Warriors struggled down the stretch, as many of their key players got hurt and the team's depth was put to the test. In order to avoid any chances of mass injuries this season, you can expect the Warriors to rest their stars on and off throughout the final 25 games.
Based on career numbers following the All-Star break however, you can bet there are some players that would love to play every single game. Since numbers do not tell the whole story, let's take a look at players that perform better and worse in their careers after the break, and gauge what to expect this season.
Pre: 47.6% FG... 42.7% 3-Pt... 23.2 Pts...4.4 Reb...6.6 Asts
Post: 48.4% FG... 45.9 % 3-Pt...24.1 Pts...4.6 Reb...6.9 Asts
Steph is the one player on the Warriors whose numbers improve across the board after the All-Star break. He has consistently proven to be a late-season closer, finding his rhythm from deep as the year goes along. I expect this season to be no different.
For his lofty standards, Curry struggled with his three-point shot in the last few weeks, so the break came at the right time. Yes, he had quite a busy and probably exhausting "break," playing the de facto host of All-Star weekend in his hometown of Charlotte, but being busy is nothing new to Curry.
This season, he is shooting a gaudy 44 percent from deep and nearly 49 percent from the field. I would not be surprised if he lights up the box scores over the next two months to approach a 50-45-90 final line.
Pre: 43.4% FG... 31.9% 3-Pt
Post: 44.5% FG... 32.5% 3-Pt
I was surprised when I saw that Draymond's career shooting totals got better throughout the season. I assumed that he would have spent so much energy on defense that his legs might be a little heavy down the stretch. But if you look at the last couple seasons in particular, it seems as if Draymond plays himself into shape as the season goes along, improving his conditioning and raising his play.
His three-point percentage is what most opposing teams pay attention to, since they most likely will strategize a defensive scheme in which they sag off of Green and dare him to shoot. But to the Warriors staff, the rise of his shooting percentages post-break is just a luxury.
Instead, they focus on his elite defense, and I expect him to make a very concerted effort to try to open enough eyes to get a shot at Defensive Player of the Year.
Pre: 45.9% FG ...32.8% 3-Pt
Post: 47.7% FG... 34.8% 3-Pt
These numbers were definitely not a surprise. Iguodala has shown throughout his Warriors career that he saves his best for last. For example, last season after the All-Star break, Iguodala shot over 41 percent from deep.
And yet, despite the career numbers, I would not be surprised if Iguodala reigned in his play a little bit over the final 25 games in order to rest his legs for the playoffs. He has played exceptional basketball off the bench so far this regular season, exerting maximum effort and resting less than many would expect for the 35-year-old wing.
The big question is whether or not his relentless first-half play will catch up with him later in the season. The Warriors will not want to find out, so I expect them to give him at least a handful of games to rest up his legs in order to regain his annual "Playoff Iguodala" form.
Pre: 49.8% FG... 38.4% 3-Pt
Post: 47.8% FG... 37.8% 3-Pt
Kevin Durant is such an amazingly consistent basketball player, I did not necessarily expect to find much change in his career percentages pre and post-break. But then again, Durant plays so hard and so many minutes throughout the season, it makes sense that his numbers would decline a little.
Durant's three-point shot has been inconsistent this whole season, so it is hard to project how it will fare after the break. But one thing is certain: the Warriors will be cautious about overextending him these last two months of the regular season.
Durant has played in every game for the team, shouldering the load early on when Curry and Green were out, and carrying the team as best he could. The Warriors recognize the need to give Durant some time to rest his legs as he prepares to give his best yet again when the playoffs arrive.
Over the last two playoffs with the Warriors, Durant has shot over 51 percent from the field and nearly 38 percent from three. They will need that same Durant if they plan to make a run at another title.
Pre: 46.2% FG
Post: 45.4% FG
Klay Thompson's career numbers pre and post-All-Star break are for the most part consistent, with a slight decline in overall shooting percentage. But I'm not going to even pretend to know what Klay is going to do the rest of this season. He has had the most roller coaster type year so far, going through uncharacteristically long shooting slumps, followed by streaks of awe-inspiring shot making.
Over the last 20 games before the break, Klay shot over 53 percent from the field and nearly 51 percent from deep. Can he keep up these garish numbers for the rest of the season?
Highly doubtful considering he has played in all but one game and is sure to experience a little fatigue. Or maybe not.
After all, it is Klay Thompson and perhaps he will put his career post-break dip "in the past like a ponytail."
Pre: 34.4% 3-Pt
Post: 30.4% 3-Pt
In his career, it is clear that Cousins loses a little bit of his legs as his three-point shot falls off considerably as the season goes along. Good news for the Warriors, however, is that Boogie will practically be playing what essentially is the first half of a season the rest of the way.
Expect the team to increase his minutes over the next two months, pushing his conditioning to reach a playoff-ready level. Cousins may be the one star on the team that does not receive much rest and instead is given the green light to go harder.
His shot has been inconsistent so far in his return, so the team will focus on getting his rhythm, timing and legs back, just in time for a run at a third straight championship.