Blogtable: Will Warriors make another push for 73 wins?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Through 35 games, the Warriors are just three games off their 73-win pace from 2015-16. Do you think they will finish below last season’s win total, match last season’s win total or exceed it … and why?
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David Aldridge: Below. Likely well below. I get the sense that Steve Kerr believes the pursuit of 73 last season, while understandable and perhaps even correct given the unique circumstances, cost his team a lot of emotional energy going into the playoffs. So I suspect he’ll rest a lot of his starters down the stretch in April to make sure they’re ready for a long postseason run. I am absolutely sure they will not “go for it” again just for the sake of chasing the record.
Steve Aschburner: Golden State doesn’t want to win 73 games or more. That 73-9 record – a tremendous achievement last season – wound up getting them mocked as much as anything when they didn’t finish off with the NBA championship. Steve Kerr & Co. don’t need that sort of attention or pressure again, and even the players who pushed last spring to eclipse the 1996 Bulls’ 72-10 mark will want to be smarter and embrace this trendy NBA notion of “rest” as a way to better prep for the postseason.
Fran Blinebury: The Warriors will not reach last season’s record of 73 wins because they won’t try. They saw what the pursuit of history did to them a year ago, wore them down and out and had them physically unprepared to go the distance to win a championship. A year ago Stephen Curry and Draymond Green pushed at Steve Kerr to let them go for the record. This time sanity prevails and will give the key members of his lineup plenty of rest coming down the stretch of the regular season. It’s all about Larry O’Brien Trophy or bust this time around, not chasing records.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Below. I’m saying massive tailspin all the way to 68 or 69 wins. The Warriors went for it last season because Steve Kerr could see his locker room really wanted the record, but that won’t happen again. Kerr made it clear from the first day of training camp that rest would be much more of a priority than a year earlier, and the same locker room is on board. Maybe that changes if they get into the final few weeks and 74 gets the heart pounding, but I doubt it. June would have been the only thing that matters anyway. But after the way the Dubs went down in flames, it matters in a special way for them.
Shaun Powell: They’ll finish below because Steve Kerr will begin resting players on a rotational basis come late March or early April. He’s already on record saying 73 or more wins means nothing to him and, I suspect, the players as well. It’s championship or bust for this team, so expect to see Curry, KD, Draymond and Klay logging heavy bench time in the spring.
John Schuhmann: They’re not getting to 73 (and they’d probably prefer not to), but I wouldn’t say that 70 is out of the question. The Warriors have four of the 20 best players in the league and could rest one of those four guys every game from here on out and still have more talent their opponent most nights. So, more than any other team we’ve ever seen, they can make their health and energy in April, May and June their No. 1 priority and still win a lot of games in January, February and March.
Sekou Smith: I’m convinced the Warriors learned a lesson from last season in regards to chasing numbers during the regular season. As fun as it might have seemed at the time, that 73-win chase didn’t produce the desired results in the playoffs. So I say they finish below last season’s win total. Why bother with an attempt at breaking your own record when you can keep your focus on the real prize? They don’t hand out Larry O’Brien trophies for the best team in the regular season.
Ian Thomsen: They’re going to finish short because winning 73 isn’t their goal. And it should not be. The only thing that matters for this group – and for Kevin Durant in particular – is prevailing in the playoffs. The regular season is very simply a means to that end.
Lang Whitaker: Below. And if they accidentally mess around and start winning even more games and look like they’re on track to get near 73, I suspect they might self-sacrifice the effort and start sitting guys down the stretch. Because if we learned anything from last season, as great as it was for the Warriors to finish with 73 wins, the only numbers anyone cares about is 3-1. And for Golden State, getting back to the Finals as healthy and rested as possible should be the goal.
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