Steinmetz: Warriors upset no big surprise

By the time you’re reading this, the Warriors will have either pulled off a first-round playoff stunner against the Dallas Mavericks … or they’ll be taking another shot at it Thursday at Oracle Arena.

Either way, what the Warriors have done in these playoffs is remarkable. So remarkable, in fact, that some are suggesting it could be the greatest upset in NBA history.

The data suggest that could be true. After all, only twice since the 16-team playoff format was adopted in 1984 has a No. 8 seed defeated a No. 1 seed in the first round. Both of those series, however — New York over Miami in 1999 and Denver over Seattle in 1994 — were five-game series.

It has never been done since the NBA went to best-of-sevens in the first round in 2003. It is widely acknowledged, and rightfully so, that it is more difficult to upset a team in seven games than in five.

Moreover, those suggesting “greatest upset ever” cite that this particular No. 1 seed, the Dallas Mavericks,won 67 games, the sixth-most in NBA history. So, the argument goes, we’re talking about one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

No doubt, with those kinds of facts on your side, you can be competitive in any debate.

But calling it the biggest upset in NBA history is simply too much of a stretch. It doesn’t give enough credit to the 2006-07 Warriors and gives too much credit to the Mavericks, who happened to approach the regular season with more zeal and determination than just about any other team in recent memory.

The Warriors finished 42-40, but let’s face it: This is not a .500 team. After battling injuries for much of the season, the Warriors finally played a slew of games in March and April with a complete team.

Those Warriors have gone 19-5 over the past two months. Included among those 19 wins were the Mavericks (five times), Detroit, Phoenix, Houston, Denver and Utah. All of those teams were still competing for a championship as of Tuesday.

Hard as it is to get your head around, this season’s Warriors have nothing to do with any of the Golden State teams of the past 12 years. Their point guard, Baron Davis, is not just one of the better point guards in the league, he is the best point guard in the league right now.

He is leading what has turned into a one-of-a-kind, smallish, quickish team that is a nightmare to play against. And don’t forget, this is a squad guided by Don Nelson, one of the most creative and innovative coaches the game has known.

The Warriors’ recent history has been so sad and so bereft of success that it is almost impossible to separate that sorry past from this wonderful present. But you must separate it.

Because when you do, you realize this year’s Warriors are a pretty darn good basketball team. That alone is the reason we’re not calling it the biggest upset in NBA history.

Matt Steinmetz is theNBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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