With just under a month to go in the regular season, the Golden State Warriors have become the first team in the Western Conference to clinch a spot in the playoffs. They locked it up on Monday evening when the Thunder, currently eighth in the conference, lost to the Mavericks in Dallas.
It says a lot about the difference between the West and East that the Atlanta Hawks clinched their playoff spot on March 4, while the Warriors (who have had a similar record) didn’t clinch until Monday.
The news broke during the Warriors’ game against the Lakers at Oracle Arena, and the crowd reacted about how you’d expect:
The video board at Oracle Arena simply says, “CLINCHED.” Of course, the fans rise for an ovation.
— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) March 17, 2015
The Warriors hold a six-game lead over the Grizzlies for the first seed in the Western Conference, and barring an epic collapse, they’re going to stay there. Currently, they would match up with the Thunder in the first round, but the race between Oklahoma City and New Orleans is probably going to go down to the wire.
Either way, the Warriors have been the best team in basketball all season and look every bit like title contenders. Clinching was merely a formality.