08 Apr The Warriors Are Back In The Hunt For 73
Just like that, the Golden State Warriors are back in the hunt for the record setting win number 73. Like a switch, they turned it on again on Thursday night, beating the San Antonio Spurs rather easily 112-101 at the Oracle Arena.
70 Down, 3 To Go
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) April 8, 2016
Seventy down, three to go. However, there are only three games left to play in their regular season so the Warriors must win their last three games to top the iconic 72-win season standard set by Michael Jordan’s legendary 1996-96 Chicago Bulls. Winning three in a row is peanuts for a team who opened the season with a 28 game winning streak but with the microscope zeroing in on them in this record chase, each game becomes a challenge as big as winning the Super Bowl.
The Warriors rebounded from a sorry loss to the Timberwolves two nights ago and now have become only the second team in NBA history to win 70 games in a single season. The Warriors play the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday, face the Spurs in a back to back on Sunday and finish the season at home against the Grizzlies again on Thursday. The Warriors are 2-0 against the Grizzlies this season, beating them by an aggregate of 66 points including the 50 point blowout on All Souls Day 2015. Sweeping the Grizzlies would give them a tie with the 1995-96 Bulls, however sandwiched between those two games is a fourth encounter with the dangerous San Antonio Spurs.
Spurs Of The Moment
In any other NBA season, being 65-13 would have meant owning the best record in the NBA. Not this year, not with Golden State’s impeccable run. But if there’s a team out there who’s capable of stopping the Dubs, it’s the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs got blown out by the Warriors 120-90 during their first meeting of the 2016 regular season. But after March 19’s 87-79 pay back at the AT&T Center, the Spurs reminded us that the Warriors are mere mortals like you and me. Defense was the key as the Spurs shut down the Dubs prolific scoring to a mere 37.8% from the field with MVP Stephen Curry going 1-12 from beyond the three point line. If there was a single moment that really shattered the Warriors’ aura of invincibility, it was when Danny Green got the first block of the season on a Stephen Curry three pointer:
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs’ revolt with 26 points while the ageless Boris Diaw chipped in 12 while taking Tim Duncan’s minutes.
Steph-ing Up In Time
Stephen Curry turned the tables on the Spurs on Thursday. After shooting just 4-18 on that fateful March game, Curry admitted that he needed to drive more against the Spurs’ defense. He did just that on Thursday, going 8-12 on two pointers and shooting 3-7 from three point distances ( one was a half court heave). Those eight 2-point field goals were one shy of the total he had in their previous two meetings with the Spurs. With Steph confidently running the show, the Warriors shot 13-14 from inside the paint during the 3rd quarter or a total of 17-20 FGs in the paint for the entire second half.
The Warriors also made 21 out of 24 uncontested shots during the game, their second best shooting performance on such shots for the entire season. Actually, they made their first 21 before missing the final three when the game was all but over. Last March 19, the Dubs had more uncontested looks at 30, but only made half of those including 4-18 from three point distance. The Warriors shot 7-10 on uncontested threes and a total of 12-25 overall from beyond the arc on Thursday. They were just 9-36 from three ball when they lost on March 19.
Harrison Barnes, who scored just 8 points on 3-10 shooting during the March 19 game, scored 21 points on 8-13 shooting on Thursday. This was Barnes’ second consecutive game with at least 20 points ( he had 20 in the loss to the Wolves), marking the second time this has happened all season long. Barnes has shot over 60% from the floor in three of the four game in April and if the Warriors are to make a run in the postseason, getting Barnes on target could be a key.
Sunday’s Big Event
The Warriors have now lost 33 straight regular-season games in San Antonio… pic.twitter.com/cEQqhQbeyA
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 20, 2016
As the Warriors remain in the chase for history, the history books aren’t on their side. If they do go on to beat the Grizzlies on Saturday, the will have to do something which they haven’t done when Stephen Curry was 8 years old and Tim Duncan was a senior at Wake Forest That’s because the Warriors have lost 33 consecutive regular season games in San Antonio. The last time the Warriors beat the Spurs? Dominique Wilkins was playing for the Spurs and Joe Smith led the Warriors with 20 points and 13 boards. Wow.
While the Warriors are hoping to break the 1995-96 Bulls’ 72 win record, the Spurs have already eclipsed the same Bulls team’s 37-0 home record to start the season. The Spurs are 39-0 right now and those may be the most important numbers coming to Sunday’s big event.
The Spurs are going to rest their big guns in their next game against the Denver Nuggets. That’s bad news for the Warriors because that means the Spurs will host the Dubs on Sunday in full force because Pop doesn’t rest his key players on consecutive nights. Question is, will the stars align for the Warriors on Sunday, in what is perhaps the biggest game of the season, and one of the biggest regular season game in NBA history. But then again, the Warriors must not look past the Grizzlies, remember what happened to the Celtics and Wolves a couple of games ago? The pressure is indeed mounting on the Warriors. Will Kerr insist on resting key players when most of the entire team want to go for the record 73 wins? The Warriors beat the Spurs on Thursday, but it only leaves us more questions than answers.