OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors took a massive step Wednesday night toward becoming the greatest NBA team of all time.
The work isn’t done yet, of course, but the Dubs ticked off a checkbox to earning the title by completing their 73rd win of the season over the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104 in front of a raucous sellout crowd — their 175th-straight — at Oracle Arena.
“I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago, I don’t think this [record for most wins in a regular season] will ever be broken,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who played all 82 games for the Chicago Bulls team that won 72 in the 1995-96 season. “Someone will have to go 74-8, and I don’t see it. I hope our fans aren’t expecting that next year.”
After weeks of laboring through fatigue and the attention that comes with the highest of expectations, Golden State returned to its most dominant form on their regular-season finale. All the tenets of the beautiful offense Steve Kerr implemented two years ago were on full display: The passing (the Warriors scored 35 of their baskets off assists); the shooting (20 of their 46 made shots were from beyond the 3-point arc); and the defense (the thin Grizzlies, playing without point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol, struggled to slow the tempo.)
And then there was the Greatest Basketball Player on the Planet: From the opening tip, Stephen Curry reminded the world why he has earned that distinction. He electrified the arena by hitting five 3-pointers in the first nine minutes, and finished the game with 10, setting the single-season record at 402. (Curry has hit at least eight 3-pointers in a game 16 times this season — more than any other player has achieved in his career.)
“I told him today, ‘Good luck breaking that [record] next year,’” Kerr said before Wednesday’s game, striking a whimsical tone.
With the record safe after the game, Kerr revealed the secret to being part of two of the greatest teams of all time.
“In terms of how the respective seasons went, it’s almost identical,” Kerr said. “Lose one, get angry, win 10. It’s kind of the formula, the only way to do it.”
With a team as cohesive and dominant, capable of going on long winning streaks as these Warriors did several times this season, the opponent seems irrelevant on most nights. Memphis fought but was simply outmatched by the home squad in its neverending quest to create its own destiny.
“What [Curry’s] done is just unbelievable,” Memphis head coach Dave Joerger said before the game. “It’s his league. The last two years, it’s Steph Curry’s league.”
Despite setting the standard for regular-season excellence, the Warriors have too much work ahead of them to linger on an accomplishment that’s been months in the making.
Golden State’s next game comes Saturday when it hosts the Houston Rockets, a talented team that has appeared to be sleepwalking through games at points this year.
The players wanted 73, but they also know the regular-season record isn’t the finish line.
“You’ve got to save [the champagne celebration] till June, man. I mean, you might have a glass of wine after the game, but that’s about it,” Thompson said earlier in the day. “We’d enjoy it for a couple nights, and then the real season starts.”
After finally achieving the previously unthinkable, Curry said he looks forward to a simpler mission in the coming weeks.
“We need 16 wins,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to focus specifically on that goal now.”Andre Iguodalachicago bullsDraymond GreenGolden State WarriorsHarrison Barnesjacob c. palmerMatt BarnesMichael JordanNBAscottie pippenStephen CurrySteve Kerr