At a time when the Washington Wizards are underachieving, the Maryland Terrapins (men and women) are looking like top seeds, and DeMatha’s Markelle Fultz is one of best players in the nation, two NBA teams are having all-time historic seasons. Are you even paying attention? If you call yourself a basketball fan, I sure hope […]
At a time when the Washington Wizards are underachieving, the Maryland Terrapins (men and women) are looking like top seeds, and DeMatha’s Markelle Fultz is one of best players in the nation, two NBA teams are having all-time historic seasons.
Are you even paying attention?
If you call yourself a basketball fan, I sure hope so.
The Golden State Warriors, fresh off of reinventing basketball and winning their first championship since 1974-75, and the San Antonio Spurs, who have won five titles in the last 17 years and are arguably the second-best dynasty in recent NBA history (and just set a record for most 13-game win streaks), both have chances of breaking the all-time record for regular-season wins.
As of Sunday night, the Warriors were 40-4 and the Spurs were 38-6. The best record ever compiled in an 82-game season was the 1995-96 Michael Jord… I mean Chicago Bulls. The Bulls went 72-10 that year.
Heading into their game Monday night, Golden State was on pace to beat the Bulls’ record. With a 10:1 win-to-loss ratio, the Warriors were on pace to go 74.5-7.5. The Spurs were on pace to go 70.8-11.2, essentially one game short of tying the record and achieving the third best record in history (that is if the Warriors do indeed finish ahead of them).
Two things come to mind right away when thinking about whether these teams can break the record. San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich routinely rests some of his older players. Will he still rest them if they are closing in on the all-time record? Probably. He rested Tim Duncan against the Warriors Monday night. Will Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr rest his players with home-court locked up and downplay the record? Probably not.
Which side would I take? I’d say Kerr’s. I was around for 72-10. People know that Bulls team like they know the 1992 Dream Team. It is something that will never be forgotten, especially if they win the title.
The fact that two teams have a shot at the record is pretty unbelievable considering the Western Conference has been the best its ever been over the last five years.
Golden State is the epitome of offensive basketball. Two years ago it was San Antonio. There were many ESPN Top Ten clips of the Spurs passing the ball around eight times for an open shot. Now the Warriors do the same, but with better shooters.
While anyone on Golden State can “spread you out” or “get it and go,” usually it seems like one of five things usually happen: 1. Stephen Curry makes magic for own jumper/three-pointer; 2. Curry makes magic and assists for layup/three-pointer; 3. Curry makes magic for own layup; 4. Draymond Green or Klay Thompson make shot; 5. Curry throws alley-oop to Andrew Bogut or Andre Iguodala.
While on Curry, his game is laughable. Not ‘sick’ or ‘ill.’ Laughable.
Think about it. What plays actually make you laugh? It’s not the ooh’s and aah’s that matter. You know a play is top notch when all you can do is laugh at it. As a former basketball player and coach speaking to other ballers, you know what I mean. When the play is too nasty, or the defensive player looks as dumb as Lloyd Christmas, all you can do is laugh.
It happened to me at least three times when I saw Curry and the Warriors take on the Wizards last year. Curry one-handed scoop off glass from 10 feet out. Laugh. Curry step-back 27-footer in a defender’s face for three. Laugh. Curry dribble, cross, around-the-back-pass to a cutting teammate for a layup. Laugh.
Curry is like “Pistol” Pete Maravich on steroids. Figuratively, not literally. And if you don’t know who Pistol Pete is then we aren’t friends.
The San Antonio Spurs are a lot simpler. The Spurs space it out with two bigs and work it around for the best shot. Every. Single. Time.
Point guard Tony Parker will come off a screen and create a shot for himself or a teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge or Kawhi Leonard will post up on the block and take it one-on-one, or five Spurs will touch the ball and showcase the best passing exhibition a person has ever seen. And it always ends with a good shot.
Some food for thought: as of Jan. 26, the Spurs’ average point differential was plus 13.5 points-per-game. That would be the best differential since… EVER! Oh, and the Warriors would finish second all-time at 12.5. Numerous stats can show how much better these two teams are than everybody else, but these two numbers really put it into perspective, not just this year, but all-time.
Still, regardless of how each team plays, there is a commonality through it all. They each play ultimate team basketball with all-time great players and coaches.
Golden State has arguably the best shooter ever in Curry, but also has All-Star talent in Green and Thompson. San Antonio has two top-20 players of its own in Leonard and Aldridge, along with two all-time greats and first-ballot Hall-of-Famers in Parker and Duncan.
Both teams also have the perfect coach. Kerr and Popovich both know how to relate to their players and get the best out of them. Both know when to crack a joke in the middle of the NBA Finals, or get on their players at the end of a four-game road trip in which they still played better than 90 percent of the league. In either case, they do what needs to be done.
I have coached before, albeit middle school basketball. But I’d say 60 percent of coaching is the talent of your players. If you’re good, you’re good. As a coach you can draw up all the plays you want, but if the shot doesn’t fall, what good was it? Thirty percent is strategy and knowing what you are talking about. And 10 percent is knowing how to relate to or motivate your players. If you are always positive and confident in your dictation, your players will be too. Always know you are going to win until it is not feasibly possible.
These teams follow those three points. They have top-of-the-line talent with top-of-the-line coaches who always believe they will win.
As fate would have it, the two met Monday night in Oakland. And to much surprise, or perhaps no surprise at all, the Warriors handled the Spurs with ease and won by 30.
Most things played out the way they have all season. Well, except for the Spurs winning by their normal margin of victory.
Both teams showed why they are in the top three in assists. Golden State assisted on 31-of-44 baskets, while San Antonio did so on 21-of-31 made shots. No one is selfish.
The Warriors remained the No. 1 scoring team in the league at 114 points-per-game, six points ahead of the second best team.
Lastly, the Warriors used perhaps the deadliest combo: fastbreak points and three-pointers. The Warriors lead the NBA in both categories, and out-scored the Spurs by nine and 18 points, respectively, in those areas.
The two teams will meet three more times before possibly meeting in the Western Conference Finals.
I hope you will be watching.