Golden State Warriors

Warriors will choose pursuit of greatness over rest

AP Photo/Darren Abate

If the Golden State Warriors finish the year 11-2 (or better), they will be the greatest regular-season team ever.

The magnitude of that record can’t be understated.

At 62-7, though, Golden State is just three games up on the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Dubs will play Tim Duncan and Co. twice more this season—the first at home, the second on the road.

So, after Saturday night’s loss to the Spurs, the Warriors can’t exactly kick their heels up and cruise. ESPN dropped a surprising stat that night:

The reigning champions will also see the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers down the stretch. None of those games figure to be easy.

Should Golden State go all-out for the record, or take a few nights off to rest up for what is likely to be a lengthy playoff push toward a second straight title?



Right now, the Warriors are a game up on Michael Jordan’s greatest team—69 games into 1995-96, the Bulls were 61-8 (per NBA).

But Golden State’s health meter is more yellow than green at the moment. Andrew Bogut is dealing with a nagging injury to his left big toe. Festus Ezeli is recovering from knee surgery. Andre Iguodala has a sprained ankle.

Stephen Curry hurt his left ankle against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 27 and then missed just a game. Overall, however, he’s been a picture of perfect health after a few injury-plagued seasons. Is his well-being worth risking to chase the record?

If Curry re-aggravates his ankle and is forced to miss extended postseason time, the Warriors would be in danger. Yeah, they’d probably have a fair chance—but opponents would have a much, much greater shot at dethroning them.

Steve Kerr joked about sitting his stars after handing Dallas a 130-112 smacking a day before losing to San Antonio, per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:

While that was clearly a playful jab at his friend Gregg Popovich, Kerr would be wise to monitor how the Spurs act down the stretch.

Resting his big guns against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, March 27? Easy. But giving them a breather three days later against a prospective playoff team like Utah on the road and on the tail end of a back-to-back isn’t as simple.

The Spurs have a cupcake of a game against the bruised and battered New Orleans Pelicans that same night. Should the Jazz beat an undermanned Golden State team, Pop’s crew would have an easy chance to inch a game closer to the No. 1 spot.



Curry obviously wants the record, per Earl K. Sneed of

Anybody with a competitive bone in their body would agree with Curry. Championships are eternal, but there’s a winner every single season. Only one team can call itself the greatest ever:

Draymond Green has his eyes set on 73 wins, too. Per Simmons:

When someone suggested that the Warriors need to close the season 10-3 to catch the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who won 72 games, Green quickly made a correction.

“No, we need 11 wins, because we want to break that thing,” Green said. “Hey, we’ve won 11 games in a row this season. There’s nothing we can’t do. It’s possible. We’re going after it, so it’s possible. …

“I’m not going to shy away from saying we want the record. We want the record, and we’re going after it.”

That’s what sports are all about—being the best.

Kerr, who played alongside Jordan on the 1995-96 team his Warriors are chasing, doubted the record could be broken back in 2009 (h/t Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald):

“I don’t think (72 wins) will ever be done again. Every year somebody gets to 28-3 or something and then the talk starts. But it’s just too hard. And there’s really no reason to try because, I mean, it can wear you out. And if you win 72 and you don’t win the title because you’re so beat up emotionally, it’s not worth it.”

Kerr, after praising the Boston Celtics, then added “But I’m telling you, it’s never going to happen again.”

On Saturday, Kerr addressed the pursuit of 73 wins again, per Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:

We’re focused on the one seed and securing homecourt, and whatever else happens, that’s just a byproduct of that. So we don’t talk about it. We’re obviously all well aware of it. We’re asked about it wherever we go. It’s nice to be in this position, but we’re not thinking about it much at all.

Kerr might be trying to avoid placing unneeded pressure on his team. That’s wise. Repeating as NBA champs is tough enough.

But Curry wants it. Green wants it and said that the rest of his team does, too.

Golden State needs to go for it.



The Warriors don’t need to sprint the final leg of the season to break the wins record.

Sitting Curry, Green and Klay Thompson at once would be silly. That’s something the Spurs do because their guys are old. Plus, Golden State needs all hands on deck against the NBA’s best.

But playing them 40 minutes a night would hurt the team’s chances of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy again.

Instead, if he wants to hand out some rest, Kerr can sit one at a time—Steph against Philly, Thompson against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Green against the Memphis Grizzlies, for example.

Or, he can scale the minutes down based on the score and opponent. Curry’s tendency to sit out fourth-quarter blowouts is well-documented, but shaving off additional first-half minutes works, too. Instead of subbing him back in with a 15-point game in the second quarter against a poor opponent, Kerr could keep Leandro Barbosa in until halftime.

Golden State’s bench is the fifth-most efficient in the league, per Hoops Stats. Those guys can handle a little more playing time than usual for a week or so.

Plus, should the Dubs sweep their opening-round opponent, there will be time to catch their breath and ice their aches.

There might not be another time to chase the all-time regular season record for wins, though. That’s why the Warriors have to go for it—but wisely.

Most people, including Curry, have pointed out that breaking the Bulls’ record would be special, but not nearly as special if the team gets ousted before winning a championship.

Well, that works the other way around, too.

Follow @TJDhoops.

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