The Golden State Warriors reached the first of their goals on Saturday night, clinching a playoff berth with a 112-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Warriors, who begin a five-game road trip Monday night in Philadelphia, became the first team to qualify for the postseason. It is the fifth straight season they have done so, and in the process they improved their league-best record to 49-9.
Certainly they have loftier goals after frittering away a 3-1 lead and losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, and winning a title the year before. All-Star guard Stephen Curry, nonetheless, savored Saturday's milestone.
"I remember those days (when we weren't going to the postseason)," he told the San Francisco Examiner. "Not a lot of guys in that locker room remember or have experienced not being on a playoff team. So, I appreciate it a lot. You never take for granted the situation we're in."
Curry scored 27 points and Klay Thompson added 24 against the Nets, as Golden State won their third straight game and their sixth in the last seven.
Forward Kevin Durant, the Warriors' leading scorer (25.7), did not play because of a bruised left hand. He is day to day.
Curry believes Golden State will have to put its best foot forward on this trip, which also includes stops in Washington, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
"We're playing five really competitive teams in their home arenas," he told the Examiner. "So, we've got to pack our defense in our suitcase and hopefully that shows up every night."
The Sixers lost 110-109 on Saturday night to the New York Knicks, as Carmelo Anthony nailed a baseline jumper with three-tenths of a second remaining for the last of his 37 points.
Philadelphia (22-36) continues to be without rookie center Joel Embiid, its leading scorer (20.2) and rebounder (7.8), who has missed the last 13 games and 16 of 17 with a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his left knee. Team officials previously announced that he will be out until at least Friday, when the Sixers host the Knicks.
General manager Bryan Colangelo also announced last Friday that forward Ben Simmons, the top pick in the 2016 draft, will miss the rest of the season with a broken right foot.
The Sixers have nonetheless won four of six, and against the Knicks all three of their frontcourt starters had double-doubles. Center Jahlil Okafor, who had been the subject of trade rumors heading into last Thursday's deadline, posted a season-high 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Forward Robert Covington had 20 points and 10 boards, and rookie forward Dario Saric contributed 19 and 15, respectively. His rebound total was a career high, and it came in his fourth straight double-double.
Second-year forward Justin Anderson, acquired in the trade that sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas last Thursday, made his Sixers debut against the Knicks. He went scoreless while playing 3:47 off the bench.
The Warriors announced after their game against Brooklyn that they were not going to re-sign guard Briante Weber, who was at the end of his second 10-day contract. Coach Steve Kerr told reporters that the team intends to add a point guard, and ESPN.com reported that the Warriors are the favorites to sign veteran Jose Calderon if his contract is bought out by the Lakers.
That same outlet reported that Dave Bauman, agent for center Andrew Bogut, is in negotiations with the Sixers to buy out Bogut's contract. He was also part of the Noel trade.