After a 124-117 overtime loss to the Timberwolves, the Golden State Warriors have lost two out of their last three, and looked rough getting there. They turned the ball over a season-high 24 times, saw Minnesota attempt 28 more free throws, and allowed the T-Wolves enough open looks that they shot at Warrior-like rates. Seventy-three wins now requires perfection, and perfection feels like more of a challenge than it has all season. What’s wrong with the Warriors?!
Nah. This is not that column. That would be a very dumb column. (That column will probably be on Foxsports.com shortly.) The Warriors are fine—they are the best team in basketball. They are getting healthy, getting their depth back, and walking the very fine line of rounding into playoff mode while still trying to win games, because the second-best team in basketball is having a historically great season of its own.
The Warriors loss—and it was a bad one, that involved coughing up a 17-point second-half lead—is actually great for simplicity. Put away your scenario generators. To win 73 games and set the NBA regular-season record, the Warriors need to win their final four games. That’s mercifully straightforward, even if it won’t be easy. Because Golden State’s path to the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage is just as clear: they would clinch with a win Thursday against the Spurs.
“We’re trying to hit the home run instead of just a bunch of singles,” head coach Steve Kerr said, and he was talking about the Warriors’ poor shot selection last night, but it applies just as well to chasing a wins record.
The regular season is long. I think it’s way too long, and I don’t even have to watch the games if I don’t want to. Warriors players, if they want to pass the 1995-96 Bulls—and many have said they do—can’t afford to even half-ass it at work more than a few times. In a moment of honesty, Draymond Green admitted the grind is wearing.
“It’s human nature to where, all right, kind of ready for the regular season to end,” Green said. “Talking 82 games, we get bored with that after awhile. And that’s no excuse, just, I’m always give it to y’all real, and that’s about as real as I can be. It’s kind of at a point now where you’re ready for the regular season to be over.”
No one should have trouble getting up for this Spurs game, which, if the universe is fair and just, will be a conference finals preview. A win and they’ve got home-court, and can then figure out if they want to go full-steam after the record or start resting guys. A loss and it’s a moot point.
Either way, the Warriors are more dangerous now than they’ve been in a while. (Festus Ezeli, out since January, returned on Sunday. Andre Iguodala played last night for the first time in a month. Andrew Bogut looked sharp after missing a game with a rib injury.) If they can only keep from getting bored.