The Warriors have won seven in a row and are now 44-4, heading into Wednesday’s game against the Wizards. It wasn’t long ago that the Warriors, themselves, and their fans felt the team was in a little bit of a malaise. Not anymore, of course.
The Warriors are once again ahead of the 72-win pace of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who set a single-season record for victories. And so the question once again has been rekindled: Should the Warriors go for that Bulls’ record, and try to win 73 games in a season?
In case you haven’t noticed, the Warriors have already made that decision: They’re going for it. And they’ve been going for it all season long. They might not be chirping about it, but they want it in a big way. It shows in their actions.
There seems to be a feeling that the Warriors have two choices: They can focus on beating the Bulls’ single-season win mark or they can cast it aside and try to make sure they’re completely healthy for Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. After all, repeating as World Champions is their primary goal.
But make no mistake: They’re chasing the Bulls, even if they’re trying to tell you otherwise. And the reason is because they’re still searching for that elusive respect that they don’t believe they’re getting.
There is little doubt that the Warriors came into this season with a chip on their shoulders. They didn’t like that Clippers coach Doc Rivers said they were lucky not having to face his team or the Spurs in last year’s playoffs. They didn’t like that the Cavaliers seemingly kept harping on not being healthy in last season’s NBA Finals. They don’t like being reminded that all four teams they faced in last year’s postseason had a point guard who was banged-up or not playing.
They’ve never liked the way Charles Barkley talks about them.
Golden State won 24 games to start the regular season, which was a clear-cut message that they weren’t messing around. They might not have come into the season thinking 73 wins, but they’re thinking it now. And why not?
If there still are doubters out there, there’s an easy way for the Warriors to rid themselves of those people: Win an NBA-record 73 or more games and then win a second consecutive title. Who could possibly disrespect a team that accomplished all that in the span of two seasons? Nobody. Or nobody with any credibility, anyway, right?
Luke Walton and Steve Kerr have talked for a few weeks now of resting players, knowing that they’re most likely looking at a long postseason run. But outside of a little here and there, no cohesive plan has evolved.
The Warriors had originally wanted to give Draymond Green consecutive games off in mid-January, but Green scrapped that idea. After he rested in a loss to Denver, Green implored the coaching staff to allow him to play the next night against the Lakers. And so he did.
Curry sat out back-to-back games on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31, because of leg soreness, and there were many who suggested to lengthen that absence. But nope. Curry was back for the first one after the New Year and hasn’t missed a game since.
Bottom line is these guys want to play – and they want to win. Ditto for Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, etc.
Some think it’s impossible for the Warriors to have it both ways: Win more games than the ’96 Bulls and rest players at the same time in preparation for the postseason. Who says?
The Warriors are 44-4. Do they math. They need to go 29-5 the rest of the way to finish the season 73-9. After what the Warriors have done so far, 29-5 seems absolutely within the realm of possibility.
Enjoy the ride: The Warriors are going for it.