Perhaps someday soon the Warriors will still be playing basketball as the calendar flips to June, but this year the turning of the calendar seems as good a place as any to reflect on the 2012-13 campaign one last time before fully looking ahead to the offseason and moving forward to 2013-14.
Today, we’ll highlight a few of the more interesting team-related odds and ends from a historic Warriors season, and next week take a closer look at some of the individual player performances of 2012-13. For loyal followers of the @gswstats twitter account throughout this season, some of these facts and figures may already be committed to memory, so bear with us as we recap the year that was.
SIX-CESSFUL PLAYOFF RUN
The Warriors participated in the postseason for the first time since 2007 and just the second time in 19 seasons, winning a playoff series for the second time in 22 years and earning their highest playoff seed (sixth) since 1993-94, when they were swept by Phoenix as a six-seed. Looking shorter term and with a more glass-half-full approach, it was the third time in the last seven seasons the Warriors have had a winning record, though they missed the postseason in 2007-08 despite winning 48 games.
Golden State has never lost a best-of-seven series in the First Round—though they’ve only played in two of them since the NBA expanded its opening round to best-of-seven game series in 2003. In Game 2 vs. Denver, the Golden State’s first playoff win since May 11, 2007, the Warriors shot a franchise-playoff-record 64.6 percent from the field, eclipsing the previous franchise mark set on May 4, 1994 vs. Phoenix by 6.7 percent (previous high was 57.9 percent). It was the best postseason shooting display in the NBA since Utah shot 65.1 percent against Phoenix back in 1991.
After the Warriors upset the Nuggets in six games (becoming the sixth No. 6 seed to upset a No. 3 seed since the First Round expanded to best-of-seven series in 2003), the Warriors took the Western Conference Champions to six games, the only team thus far to defeat the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Playoffs (San Antonio swept the Lakers and Grizzlies in the First Round and Conference Championship, respectively).
One of those wins against the Spurs came in San Antonio, the first-ever victory for the Warriors at AT&T Center (the Spurs’ home since 2002) and the first win in the Alamo City since February 14, 1997, snapping a 30-game losing streak on the Spurs’ home court. The Warriors won multiple games in the Western Conference Semis for the first time since 1977, when they lost to the Lakers in seven games, and ended the postseason with a 6-6 record, their most wins in a single postseason since 1976.
MAKING HIS MARK
In just his second year as head coach of the Warriors, Mark Jackson led his squad to a 47-35 record, more than doubling the team’s win total in his first season (23 wins in an abbreviated 66-game schedule). The Warriors won 24 more games than the previous year, which represented the second-biggest win increase in the NBA behind only Brooklyn’s 27, and the third-best year-over-year improvement in franchise history behind only the 1988-89 and 1953-54 campaigns.
|WARRIORS ALL-TIME TURNAROUNDS|
|Season (Win %)||Previous Yr (%)||Improvement|
|1988-89 (.524)||1987-88 (.244)||+.280|
|1953-54 (.403)||1952-53 (.174)||+.229|
|2012-13 (.573)||2011-12 (.348)||+.225|
|1965-66 (.438)||1964-65 (.213)||+.225|
|1950-51 (.606)||1949-50 (.382)||+.224|
An added emphasis on the defensive end was a clear key to the turnaround, as Golden State finished the season ranking third in opponent field goal percentage (.439), finishing in the top half of the league in the category for the first time since 1998-99. Golden State went from 28th in the league in rebounding in 2011-12 (39.2 boards per game) to 3rd in 2012-13 (45.0), grabbing nearly six more rebounds per game than last season’s squad.
Behind the raucous crowds of Oracle Arena, the Warriors had plenty of success on the home floor, but it was a newfound ability to handle the hostile environments elsewhere that led to the Warriors’ turnaround this season. Golden State went 19-22 away from the friendly confines of Roaracle, just the fourth time since 1976-77 that they’ve won at least 19 games away from the Bay.
An East Coast road trip in December might be credited with putting the Warriors on the map this season. From Dec. 5-15, the Warriors embarked upon a season-long seven-game roadie and came away with a 6-1 record, their best trip of that length in franchise history and their first winning roadie of seven-or-more games since 1970. The Warriors won the first five games of the trip, the first time they’ve done so since 1978, and became the ninth team in NBA history to come away from a road stretch of seven-plus games with only one loss.
|7+ GM ROAD TRIPS W/ 1 LOSS, NBA|
RECURRING STORY ARC
The Warriors saw vast improvement in a few long-ignored statistical categories, but they also got to the postseason by simply doing what they’ve done on the offensive end over the last few seasons—particularly from behind the three-point line. The Warriors led the league in three-point percentage by hitting a franchise-record 40.3 percent from distance and, since Stephen Curry entered the league in 2009-10, no team has a better three-point shooting percentage than the Warriors’ 38.9 percent conversion rate.
All told, the Warriors won a combined 53 games in the regular and postseason, tied for the fourth most wins they’ve tallied in their 51-year Bay Area history, and the most since they recorded 56 wins in 1991-92. The Warriors got to 53 by winning consistently each month, save for a 4-8 spell in February (fortunately the shortest month of the year). In the regular season, Golden State went 8-5 in November, 12-4 in December, 8-7 in January, 9-7 in March and 5-3 in April, giving them five winning months in a season for the first time since 2007-08 (and that doesn’t include a season-opening win on the last day of October). The Warriors’ 12 wins in December tied the Philadelphia Warriors of 1961-62 for the most December victories in franchise history, the first time since posting a 13-4 mark in March of 1976 that the Warriors have won at least 12 games in a single month.
Of the Warriors’ 47 regular season triumphs, 29 wins came against the franchise-record 11 teams that the Warriors swept this season, including four-game sweeps of the Timberwolves, Hornets and Suns—their first sweep of Phoenix since 1976-77.
|WARRIORS SWEEPS, 2012-13|
|Opponent||Series||Last Sweep (min. 2 gms)|