The Warriors are 45-4 (.918), so they’d have to finish a slightly less ridiculous 28-5 (.848) to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for regular season wins. Which sounds surprisingly doable! Talk about a realization that borders on surreal, especially for longtime Warriors fans.
73 wins. Insane, but not impossible.
Each of the Warriors’ first four losses fall into one of three categories.
1. Warriors exhausted: 108-95 loss in Milwaukee the night after a double-overtime win in Boston, with the pressure of their winning streak growing larger with each game
2. Players missing: 114-91 loss in Dallas without Stephen Curry; 112-110 loss in Denver without Draymond Green
3. Just plain off: 113-95 loss in Detroit that brought their only stretch of less-than-stellar basketball this season to an abrupt halt
We can’t predict injuries or team-wide slumps/malaise, but we can pose some educated guesses about when exhaustion could hurt their chances, either in terms of team-wide fatigue or possible rest days for key players. In other words, the schedule can tell us when potential losses may occur. Here are the dates that could stand in the way of the Warriors’ historic quest.
2/6 vs OKC: Warriors tend to get up for games against the better teams, and they don’t lose at home. But while they have two days off before this game, one of those days was at the White House and they have to fly cross-country to play a very good team they haven’t seen yet this season, a squad that can’t be all that happy about Curry’s “win and a win” remark.
2/20 @ LAC: While they’re 2-0 against the Clippers this year, they *only* won those games by a combined 11 points. They start their six-game post-All-Star Break road trip the night before in Portland, and Steve Kerr will go into that game hoping to rest his starters in the fourth quarter.
2/22 @ ATL: Potential letdown game (unless they lose to the Clippers, in which case they’ll probably beat the Hawks by 20+).
2/24 @ MIA: The Warriors weren’t playing particularly well at the time, but they struggled to beat the Heat at home in January.
2/25 @ ORL: Let’s see … away game against a bad team (the Magic have lost 14 of their last 16), second game of a back-to-back, fifth game of a six-game road trip. The Warriors will also be tempted to rest at least one rotation player, especially with a game against a much better team looming two nights later.
2/27 @ OKC: The Warriors lost 127-115 in Oklahoma City last season, and they’ll be looking forward to sleeping in their own beds after nine days away from home.
3/3 vs OKC: This will be the Warriors’ third game in 27 days against Oklahoma City. If they win all three, the Thunder will be more than happy to avoid Golden State in the second round.
3/18 @ DAL: The Warriors shouldn’t have a problem winning this game, unless someone important either gets hurt or a scheduled night off in preparation for …
3/19 @ SAS: The Spurs will seek revenge after losing by 30 in Oakland. The Warriors haven’t won a regular season game in San Antonio since 1997, although they won one playoff game there (and should’ve won two) in 2013. Back-to-backs in Texas are never kind, especially when they end here.
3/23 vs LAC: If the Warriors beat them at Staples on Feb. 20, the Clippers will desperately want to avoid a four-game season sweep. If the Clippers win on Feb. 20, they’ll feel good about their chances in this game.
3/30 @ UTA: Golden State BARELY won in Utah on late-November, in part because Shaun Livingston hit his first three as a Warrior. They also host the Wizards on Mar. 29.
Last four games of the year
- 4/7 vs SAS
- 4/9 @ MEM
- 4/10 @ SAS
- 4/13 vs MEM
So much potentially at play here. Will the Warriors be fighting for the No. 1 seed? If that’s locked up, there might be a temptation to rest players. It’s also difficult to beat any team twice in less than a week, let alone good teams like the Spurs and Grizzlies. The pressure on Golden State could be slightly ridiculous for “meaningless” games if the Warriors are on the verge of going undefeated at home and/or breaking the 1995-96 Bulls’ record.
If the Warriors can finish better than 11-4 in the 15 games above — to give them a one-game cushion in case they slip and lose a game I didn’t mention — 73 wins is in play. It’d be foolhardy to count them out, especially if they go 6-0 or 5-1 during their road trip to start the unofficial second half of the season. After that, 17 of their final 24 games are at home.
However, eight back-to-backs and multiple games against the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Grizzlies won’t necessarily be easy. That is, unless a mainstream reporter, one of their opponents, or a former player from the 1990s goes into detail about how the Warriors can’t possibly win 73 games … in the process pissing them off and providing them even more motivation than their grand opportunity to make history.