Its record 24-0 start history after Saturday's 108-95 loss in Milwaukee, Golden State can now focus on getting even better
POSTED: Dec 13, 2015 2:07 AM ET
Warriors vs. Bucks
Greg Monroe scores 28 points for the Bucks, who beat the defending NBA champions.
MILWAUKEE — After seven games spread across two weeks, six states and two countries, Steph Curry was fighting with his suitcase. Packing up late Saturday night in the visitors' dressing room at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the black roller bag with the embroidered Golden State Warriors logo didn't want to zip quite right.
Which was surprising, because it wasn't like he was toting an historic winning streak back to the Bay Area in there.
The Warriors' streak ended at 24 victories as their long road trip, a succession of opponents' best efforts and their own human frailties (mostly fatigue) reared up in a 108-95 loss to Milwaukee.
The Bucks did so much right. Center Greg Monroe (28 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) asserted his bigness against the NBA's most dangerous band of smalls. Giannis Antetokounmpo (11 points, 12 boards, 10 assists) picked the best possible time to post the first triple-double of his young, versatile career. O.J. Mayo put starch in the home team's shorts early, while Jabari Parker and Michael Carter-Williams saved their best for later. And Milwaukee's lanky, reaching defense held the previously perfect defending champions under 100 points for the first time this season, limiting them to just six 3-point field goals in 26 attempts.
What did the Warriors do wrong? Nothing, really, beyond succumbing to the wear and tear of their record-setting start to the season. Curry scored 28 with seven rebounds and five assists but backcourt mate Klay Thompson was off after missing Friday's double-overtime game in Boston with a sprained ankle. The bench, other than Festus Ezeli, brought little offensively.
Still, to pick at them any more would seem out of line. Only one team in league history -- or two, depending on how you're counting -- ever strung together more victories: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 in a row, and the 2012-13 Miami Heat got to 27. Golden State made it to 28, if you count the four victories in April at the end of last season, or 24 if you don't.
Just in terms of this season, the Warriors went 47 days deep into 2015-16 before they lost for the first time. None of the NBA's other teams lasted more than 10.
"Y'all thought we were gonna be sad, huh?" Draymond Green said to reporters milling about, long after the final horn and the green confetti preloaded by the Bucks' operations crew in hopes of precisely what happened.
While the Bucks were thrilled -- their 10-15 start largely had been a disappointment until Saturday -- and their sellout crowd of 18,717 was giddy, the Warriors were a long ways from sad.
I bet there will be a little relief mentally going forward from this point on. It was a lot of fun. We plan on continuing to win a lot of ball games.
– Warriors interim coach Luke Walton
Green even made sure of that, speaking up immediately afterward to the crew that had accomplished so much. The streak is dead? Long live the season.
"I just told the guys that now we can have a regular season," the all-purpose Warriors forward said. "It's been kind of a playoff feel to this, with the streak and all the media and attention around. But our goal was always to get better each and every time we get on the floor. ... I think that, probably the last seven or eight games, we've stopped getting better and we've just tried to win games."
Interim head coach Luke Walton had talked longingly for several days of teachable moments, the "issues that get swept under the rug" when a team keeps winning. It's hard to be hyper-critical, and to get players' attention, when small flaws don't undermine the big picture.
Now the Warriors can exhale. And clean a few things up.
"We didn't have our shots falling and we were a little slow on our defensive rotations," said Walton, filling in while head coach Steve Kerr recovers from back issues. "It happens. It takes nothing away from what they've done to start the season."
Walton added: "I bet there will be a little relief mentally going forward from this point on. It was a lot of fun. We plan on continuing to win a lot of ball games."
Golden State still can chase down the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' 72-10 mark, the NBA's all-time best; after 24-1, a 49-8 finish doesn't seem beyond their grasp.
The Bucks, meanwhile, would be happy just to catch up to their own .500 selves of last season, when they surprised everyone with a 26-game improvement to 41-41 and the No. 6 seed in the East. That team largely has been absent, slippage coming due to unreliable shooting and defensive breakdowns that they mostly avoided Saturday.
Monroe, the free-agent center from Detroit who chose Milwaukee over New York and Los Angeles, scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, thriving against the champs' bigs and, more impressively, their smalls. So often when Golden State goes to its deadly smaller lineup -- the way it did in bumping off Cleveland in the Finals -- opponents feel obliged to match lest they get run-and-gunned out of the gym.
Arena Link: Greg Monroe
Bucks' Greg Monroe joins GameTime after leading Milwaukee with 28 points over Golden State stopping their unbeaten winning streak to start the season.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd stuck with the man nicknamed "Moose" and, this time, kept the advantage. Monroe denied it but the way he attacked or passed out of the low post, it was as if he took personally the Warriors' attempt to guard a 6-foot-11, 265-pound professional big man with the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Green.
"We have a very flexible team," Mayo said. " 'Moose's played [power forward] before coming here. So we feel comfortable with him going against another good [forward] in Draymond Green. With Giannis and Jabari and me and Michael and Khris [Middleton], we're all interchangeable in a lot of positions on the floor. So defensively we can hold our own."
The Bucks are hopeful that one special night can propel them to better days as they head west for a week (they'll face Golden State again in Oakland on Friday). The Warriors are counting on one speed-bump of a night to re-focus them on continuous improvement, allow for some much-needed rest and target what matters most, a second consecutive NBA title. So long, streak. It was nice while it lasted.
"It's tough. Nobody wanted to see it come to an end," Curry said. "Thirty-three was within our grasp. But 24-1, going home, hopefully we handle business and get back to playing our best basketball, and winning games in the process."