The Mavericks are hot on their heels, but here’s how the Warriors can lock down the No. 3 seed

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors’ final nationally televised regular-season home game against the Lakers wasn’t the advertised headline game. But Golden State’s 128-112 win on Thursday kept their hopes of securing the third seed in the Western Conference alive with just two regular season games remaining.

Golden State will end the season as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, which at least secures home-court advantage in the first round. Which seed they fall into will be decided on this weekend’s back-to-back road trip against the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans.

Now one game away from the Dallas Mavericks (50-30) in third place, the Warriors can clinch the No. 3 seed if they win the season. The Mavericks face the tanked Portland Trail Blazers and Spurs, and could take control of those three seeds if they win both games and the Warriors lose at least one of their last two games.

“We’re going to try to win all three games,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We were just thinking about building momentum. If we could capitalize on those last two wins and get through the next week on a winning streak, I think that would serve us really well. But whatever happens with the top seed, we will play whoever we play against.

That Klay Thompson, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will have to rest at least one consecutive game is a disadvantage for the Warriors. While Kerr may choose to split the trio’s rest days, the Warriors are just finding their footing offensively without Steph Curry.

Any game without Thompson — who has scored 69 points in his last two games — and Porter Jr. start Golden State’s scoring options when they need scorers the most.

And Golden State’s ball movement has also been efficient and smooth since Iguodala’s return.

The Warriors’ short-bench disadvantage could be slightly neutralized if New Orleans and San Antonio decide to sit a few guys of their own. The Spurs and Pelicans clinched the No. 9 and No. 10 spots respectively, guaranteeing they will face off in one of two Western Conference play-offs.

When the Warriors travel to San Antonio on Saturday, the Spurs will also be in the first leg of a back-to-back game – facing the Dallas Mavericks the following day. With their play-in on April 13, Spurs could opt to rest a few everyday players like Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl.

More likely, however, the Warriors will face a Pelicans team that will rest their stars on the final day of the season. New Orleans could have starters such as Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas for Sunday’s game.

The Warriors’ first-round game will be at home against either the Utah Jazz or the Denver Nuggets — a half game separates those two teams. With a three-seed, they can secure home-court advantage against anyone but the two-seeded Grizzlies and one-seeded Suns, but any advantage is up for grabs.

“It’s really become our home court for the first time and we really have an advantage,” Kerr said. “The first two years of Chase, we were in the middle of the pandemic and for most of one season we had no fans, and part of the other season we just opened the building and everyone was injured and had the worst record in the league. We didn’t give our fans anything to cheer about, so this is the first time it’s all really come together, and it’s been fun establishing that fact. I think that’s one of the keys to having a really good season in the NBA to control your court and we were able to do that.

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