Golden State Warriors: Splashing Towards History

Last season, en route to winning the franchise's first championship in 40 years, the Golden State Warriors were considered by many to be a flash-in-the-pan champion, most likely sitting on the NBA throne for only a year.

If people thought that, it's probably beyond time to re-evaluate their opinion.

Following up their magical season, the Warriors are looking to outdo themselves. After a 121-106  victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, the Warriors improved to 55-5 on the year. If you're looking to keep track at home, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were 54-6 through 60 games. Those are the very same Bulls that finished 72-10.

Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played some the best basketball in NBA history between 1995-1998. The Bulls record of 72 wins was one that I personally believed would never be broken. The NBA has become such a competitive landscape that, even as the Warriors started 24-0, I held a firm belief they would eventually fall off and lose about 15 games.

Now, while that is still entirely possible, I find it difficult to fathom them going 12-10 over their remaining games. That would take a devastating injury or Steve Kerr saying, "Hey, let's rest all my good players. Either way, I'll still be part of the record."

Comparisons between the two teams have been elicited over the past few weeks, with former players ranging from Oscar Robertson to Cedric Ceballos weighing in on the issue. Many of them are talking about poor coaching and defense as the problem, giving very little credit to Steph Curry and his teammates for what they've actually accomplished.

To some extent, I agree with the comments about the physicality (or lack thereof) in today's NBA. Curry would have constantly been reminded to not enter the paint, lest he be knocked to the ground. (I still contend Allen Iverson's career was shortened by at least three years because of the beating he took in games.) I think the defense of yesteryear would have dictated how the Warriors played.

Of course, Curry can shoot the ball like none other in the game before him (Sorry Ray Allen). The man is lights out and he could have thrived with his shooting in any era.

Back to the issue at hand. Will the Warriors end up beating the record held by the Bulls? 

Golden State is averaging 115.4 points per game, while Chicago averaged 105.2 during their run, leading the league. Now, this may seem like a big difference, but it is good to be reminded that the style of play was much different. The physicality of the 90's led to lower scoring games, so averaging over 100 was considered quite the coup.

Looking closer at point differential, it can be seen that Golden State allows 104.2 points per game. If I saw that stat alone, I'd think their defense is not very good. Once again, style of play comes into effect. It is such an up and down game in this era, that an 11.2 point differential is certainly doing the trick.

The Chicago Bulls? Their point differential was 12.3, allowing only 92.9. This was good for third overall, while the Warriors are currently 22nd.

The Warriors do much more than score, averaging 29.1 assists (1st) and 46.3 rebounds (4th) per game.

22 games remain for the Warriors and it seems like breaking the record maybe in their favor. Fifteen of those games are at home, where Golden State is currently undefeated this season. 

Playing at home will be an asset, as 12 of the 22 games will be against teams that are currently sitting at .500 or better.

The Warriors biggest hurdle? Two games against the San Antonio Spurs, including one in San Antonio. The Spurs also have not lost at home this season and, at 52-9, are quietly putting together one of the best seasons in NBA history. One that is only being overlooked because of what Curry and the Warriors are accomplishing.

Barring any sort of major debacle or seeing as how they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the SI cover jinx, the Warriors will move the Bulls down one notch for best single season record. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they finish 74-8.

Curry, averaging 30.7 points per game while shooting 51.4% from the field (ridiculous for a guard) has already broken his single-season three-point record and is playing lights out. Despite Curry's numbers, I'd argue that Draymond Green is more important and is the true MVP of the team. He averages 13.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game. 

Without Green, the Warriors were simply a team that was exciting and drained a lot of threes. Curry and Klay Thompson were exciting as the Splash Brothers, but Green has kicked them into gear with stellar defense and all-around great play. Reminiscent of another era when the Warriors once had an three-headed monster leading the team and bringing excitement, these guys are in need of a new nickname. A nickname that all three can enjoy.

Run DKS anyone?


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