The Warriors are out of excuses.

Starting tonight against Cleveland, they are completely healthy, save for a few dings and a few guys working back into shape. Coach Keith Smart said he has finally nailed down his rotation, which he said will go eight deep with two others receiving spot minutes.

If that isn't enough, the Warriors get 18 of their next 22 games at home.

"I see it as we've got a great opportunity right now," forward David Lee said. "This is going to make or break our season. We have a bunch of home games, a bunch of winnable games. We're going to have to follow through and take care of business right now."

The Warriors hit their low point, dropping to a season-high nine games under .500, after a home loss to Houston on Dec. 20. At that point, they'd lost 14 of 16. Since then, they've managed to apply the brakes to their free fall and even inch up some. The Warriors have won five of eight, two of those victories coming against winning teams.

Though still seven games under .500, Golden State (14-21) is just 41/2 games behind the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 47 games to play. They don't use the "P" word often, but the Warriors still are hoping to make the playoffs. To have a chance, it stands to reason they must win now.


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"I think we've put ourselves in a good spot," Lee said. "We're not out of any sort of race right now. We're right in the middle of it, and we can make a good push."

The obstacles have been obvious this season. Three starters -- Lee, point guard Stephen Curry and center Andris Biedrins -- have each missed at least eight games with injuries. Two of the Warriors' eight new players -- first-round draft pick Ekpe Udoh and Lou Amundson -- missed the first month of the season. And they went through a coaching change just before training camp.

They have spent the first two months of the season weathering the storm, but if this season is to be different from the last two, logic suggests it all has to come together now.

Everyone being healthy and the favorable schedule aren't the only reasons. The trade deadline is six weeks away, so this unit has limited time to show what it can do. General manager Larry Riley, armed with nearly $20 million in expiring contracts and depth he can take advantage of, said the Warriors will be as active as any team in the trade market.

"It's an opportunity to get things moving in a better direction," Riley said. "Nobody is happy with the record. We're in a challenge to improve."

Smart cautioned his team shouldn't get ahead of itself and start chalking up victories in advance. He said the Warriors have turned things around by taking it one game at a time.

Guard Monta Ellis, who was obviously pleased after Wednesday's upset at New Orleans, said: "We've got to continue to work hard, play as a team, grind it out and turn it around.

"It was the first game (with everyone together)," Ellis said of the win over the Hornets. "It's great we got the win. We hope guys continue to stay healthy and play so we can make a run and put everything together."

today's game
Cleveland at Warriors, 7:30 p.m. CSNBA