Frankly, it doesn’t matter when the Golden State Warriors lose. Honestly, if Christmas day comes and goes and the Warriors are celebrating their 33rd consecutive win, it won’t matter. Because when you look at the teams that the Warriors are sharing, or would be sharing, air space with, they all have one thing in common: championships.
If the Warriors manage to push the win streak to 33 games by Christmas day, and come the 41st game of the season in Detroit on January 16th, if the Warriors can manage just three losses (lets be honest, its within the realm of possibilities), the Warriors would find themselves among elite company.
Lets start with the 33-game winning streak, a streak I’m not convinced will ever come to fruition. As it stands right now, the Warriors 24-game winning streak sits at 3rd in NBA history, behind the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers and the 2012-13 Miami Heat. The common denominator between both those teams? NBA Champions.
The Milwaukee Bucks pushed a 20-game winning streak during the 1970-71 season, while the Lakers (1999-2000) and the San Antonio Spurs (2013-14) ran off winning streaks of 19 games, all culminating in NBA Championships.
In fact, among teams with winning streaks that hit at least 18 games (15 teams) only 5 teams didn’t go on to win NBA titles. Among those five teams, a pair made it to the Conference Finals and one team, the 1948-49 Washington Capitols, made it to the Finals, falling in six games to the Minneapolis Lakers.
If the Warriors are able to push their record to 38-3 by January 16th, the 41st game on the Warriors schedule, they would join the 1971-72 Lakers and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls with the best record in NBA history through 41 games. The similarity between those teams? Champions.
Golden State already owns the best start in NBA history at 20-0, and it isn’t unfathomable to think they could own the best starts in NBA history with one, two, and potentially even three loses. The NBA record for best one-loss start was by the 1969-70 New York Knicks. Their record? 23-1. (Heck, Golden State might hit 23 wins without a single loss.) Their result at the end of the season? NBA Champions.
The best two-loss start in NBA history was by the Boston Celtics, who began the 2008-09 season 27-2, falling to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, a series in which many people believe would’ve been much different had it not been for the absence of Kendrick Perkins due to injury.
The best three-loss start in NBA history is by the 95-96 Bulls who began 41-3, en route to the first of three straight NBA championships.
I’m not going to sit here and say that the Warriors are going to win the NBA Championship because I’m far too superstitious to do something along those lines. With that being said, however, the stars almost look like their aligning for a repeat.
The fuel to the Warriors 2014-15 Championship campaign was the seemingly complete lack of major injuries. The Warriors missed Andrew Bogut at times during the regular season, but come playoff time, the Warriors roster, their stars in particular, remained healthy.
That’s the beauty of this 24-game winning streak. Golden State has been able to balloon their leads early in the game, which allows the starters to rest as the fourth quarter rolls around. Per 100 first half possessions, the Warriors are outscoring their opponents by 19.6 points, which is more than double the margin of every other team in the league outside of San Antonio (13.8). If the Warriors plan on repeating, they’ll need to be healthy, and resting their starters this early in the season will go a long way in preserving their health in the long term.
It doesn’t hurt when the reigning MVP is playing like the best player in the world either. Steph Curry is currently averaging 31.6 points per game, with 6.0 assists and 5.2 rebounds. Sure, the assist numbers are the lowest since his 2011-12 season, but consider that down the stretch Curry is sitting on the bench and not running the floor. It may be contradictory to say that Curry is averaging 34.4 minutes per game, but again, those minutes are coming in the first half when Curry is more apt to pull the trigger on a shot than a pass.
Speaking of pulling the trigger, as Curry pulls it more, the Warriors see even more success. Curry is currently averaging 20 shots a game with 10.4 makes, the highest marks of his career, as well as 11 three-point attempts and nearly five made per game, also career bests. Even though Curry isn’t needed in the fourth quarter, his killer instinct is still taking over in the first half.
But it’s the play of Draymond Green who may have Warriors fans dreaming of a repeat. Green became the first Warrior since Wilt Chamberlain in 1964 to post consecutive triple-doubles and is on pace to become the first NBA player ever to average at least 12.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 three-pointers a game.
In the offseason, as Green repeatedly said he wanted a max contract, plenty of NBA pundits scoffed at such an idea. Paying Green max money would prevent the Warriors from locking up the key pieces that have propelled them to the level they are at. This season, however, Green is proving he is one of those key pieces.
Whether you look at the historical standpoint or the current play on the court, it’s not a far fetched idea to see the writing on the wall of consecutive NBA championships. But I didn’t say that.