By Stephen Scafidi
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have been unstoppable this season. Suffering only seven losses in 70 games and sitting at 63-7, they are on pace to break the NBA’s season win/loss record of 72-10, set by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96. With a comparison to a team like the Bulls in the air, people have been mumbling that this year’s Golden State team may be the greatest ever.
The pressure will continue to mount in the final four weeks of the NBA’s regular season, ending April 13, when the defending NBA champion Warriors are likely to find that the target on their back is only growing larger.. With 12 games remaining, the Warriors face three teams with records under .500. The other nine teams are almost certain to make the playoffs, and will prove tougher opponents if the Warriors are to finish the job. Those teams include the Memphis Grizzlies (twice), the San Antonio Spurs (twice), Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and Portland Trailblazers.
Ironically, three of the team – Dallas, San Antonio and Portland – each account for one of the seven losses Golden State suffered this year. As a result, they may relish playing the role of spoiler for Golden State. Also, having a heavy Western Conference schedule will have teams jostling for position in the playoffs down the stretch, making wins crucial for each team’s seed and match up in the first round.
At this point in the season in 1996, through 70 games, the Chicago Bulls were 62-8 and had come off a loss two games earlier, according to Basketball Reference, just like the Warriors have lost two games ago to the San Antonio Spurs. This comparison puts Golden State right on track to hit the 72-win mark, and possibly even surpass it with a record of 73-9. Jordan has taken notice of what the Warriors are doing and in a conversation with Klay Thompson, according to Fox Sports, Jordan told him, “Go ahead and break the record.”
In order for that to happen, Golden State will have to finish the season with a 10-2 record. The Warriors have twice had 10-game winning streaks this season, including when they started the season on a 24-game winning streak, marking the best start in NBA history.
Can this team pull it off? Curry is undoubtedly this year’s MVP and it could end up being the first unanimous decision since Bill Russell. Draymond Green is second in the NBA in triple-doubles, according to NBA.com, and his surprising improvement has taken his team to new levels. One could argue that Thompson is the second best shooter in the NBA, and he shares a backcourt with the best in Curry. Along with a slew of other role players and its deep bench, Golden State is poised to break the record of 72 wins and should do it barring any injuries.