HOUSTON -- The Warriors are facing one of those daunting stretches, the kind that is supposed to derail their progress and bring them back to reality.
Tuesday, they kick off a four-games-in-five-nights trip, their second such trip in two weeks. This one features three teams in the thick of the Western Conference's deep playoff race. And the Warriors will play two games without starting center Andrew Bogut, who is not yet playing back-to-back sets since returning from an ankle injury.
But the Warriors have faced these situations before and still sit a season-best 13 games over .500.
"Our confidence level is very high," rookie forward Draymond Green said. "I think we are getting better, and having Bogut back helps a lot. We've really got it clicking now."
Splitting any trip is a good deal, but especially on this one. The Warriors will be visiting three of the top eight teams in the West.
First, they face a Rockets squad that is strong at home. Houston is second in the NBA in scoring (105.1 points per game) and really gets up and down the court at the Toyota Center, led by guards James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
The next night, the Warriors visit arguably the best team in the league in Oklahoma City. The Thunder is 21-3 at home and no doubt remembers its close loss at Oracle Arena last month.
After a day off, the Warriors visit Memphis, which sits a half-game ahead of the Warriors for the No. 4 seed in the West.
The Grizzlies might be less potent since trading star forward Rudy Gay to Toronto, but with their size advantage, they have owned the Warriors of late.
The Warriors conclude their second back-to-back set of the week at Dallas. The Mavericks are much closer to the bottom than the top of the West. But they could have star Dirk Nowitzki and center Chris Kaman back for the Warriors' visit. Neither played in the Warriors' home win over Dallas on Thursday.
Bogut probably will sit out the games at Oklahoma City and Dallas. Wins at Houston (a threat behind the Warriors) and Memphis (directly ahead) figure to have more value as the Warriors jockey for playoff positioning. It makes more sense for Bogut to play those games.
Going 2-2 on this trip, followed by a home win over Houston, would ensure the Warriors enter the All-Star break in great position.
They perhaps could afford going 1-3, because they have built a nice cushion. But point guard Jarrett Jack said they are hardly thinking that way.
"Whenever there is any type of stoppage of play, you want to finish on a positive note," he said. "You don't want to come off the break still wondering about two games you gave away because you were looking ahead. It's just like winter break in school. You might mess up on a test because you're thinking about this time off that's coming your way."
The Warriors went 4-0 despite not having Bogut or point guard Stephen Curry in two of those games. That is largely because Lee averaged 18.0 points, 14.3 rebounds and 7.8 assists.
He shot 51.7 percent and became the first NBA player in nearly 10 years to post four consecutive games with at least 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The last to do it was Kevin Garnett in April 2003.
Lee has an NBA-high 31 double-doubles this season.
Warriors (30-17) at Houston (26-23), 5 p.m., CSNBA