With the Golden State Warriors’ streak finally over, some Today’s Fastbreak contributors got together to talk about the streak and where the Warriors go from here.
Jason Patt: The Warriors’ streak is finally over after 24 straight wins to start the season and 28 dating back to last regular season. Were you surprised that it finally came to an end in Milwaukee, or did you expect it to keep going and going and going?
Kelly Scaletta: I was actually not surprised that it ended in Milwaukee. In fact, I suspected that might be the case simply because it was the ultimate chance for a letdown game. Coming off a double-overtime game in a back-to-back, the sixth game in nine days and a seven-game road trip, it was pretty obvious there was going to be some fatigue involved.
And yes, some of that fatigue was evident in their 41 percent shooting (16-of-39) on open shots.
And perhaps they could get past it if this had been one of the “hyped games” where everyone was predicting the streak would end. I think that has a lot to do with it too. Exhaustion and no chip to address? It’s understandable that it was a good time for them to lose. I’m not the least bit surprised that the end to the streak came on a game they weren’t supposed to lose.
Michael Erler: I was pretty surprised they lost to Milwaukee, actually, especially after it was announced that Klay Thompson would be playing after missing just one game when he sprained his ankle at Indiana. There was probably some bias on my part involved because I’d seen the Bucks up close and personal at San Antonio and they looked terrible, scoring just 70 points. Greg Monroe was a monster against Golden State and Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo were very effective as well. Their length and athleticism bothered the Warriors.
I expected the streak to end at Indiana or Boston, the latter especially with Thompson out, but I suppose there’s a reason why no NBA team in history has ever had a 7-0 road trip, especially with the way the league designs its schedules to give home teams the maximum advantage by often making road teams play a bunch of games wedged close together.
Honestly though once they left Boston undefeated, even though it took two overtimes to get there, I thought the Warriors would win another tight one in Milwaukee and keep their streak going until the back-to-back on Dec. 30/31 at Dallas and at Houston. I thought it was set up for them to lose that Rockets game.
Grant Hughes: In a vacuum, losing to the Bucks is a huge surprise, even on a back-to-back (though Milwaukee played the night before as well). Really, though, you could see this loss coming. Golden State’s bench gave away a huge lead against Indy that required the starters to re-enter late in the fourth, and that’s when Thompson tweaked the ankle. Then the Boston game (in which the Warriors were legitimately outplayed) left everyone gassed.
Losing to the Bucks was really about not playing well enough in the preceding week.
And that’s the quietly odd thing about the end of this streak: The Warriors have been gutting out games for a while now. There were a handful of the — Brooklyn, Toronto twice, Boston — that could easily have gone either way recently, and the fact that most victories were the result of spectacular Curry-led flurries masked the narrowing margins and shakier overall performances.
The Dubs may still break the single-season win record, but they needed to lose so they could hit the reset button. You could just feel it.
Jason: I agree with Kelly and Grant on this one. I wouldn’t say I “expected” them to lose to the Bucks, but it didn’t surprise me one bit when it happened. SEGABABA after a double OT thriller to cap off a road trip? No Harry B and a less than 100 percent Klay? It was a perfect storm of factors, and sure enough, it finally resulted in a loss. There’s a reason why teams don’t win every game they play, no matter how good they are.
I also agree with the point that finally losing is actually a good thing for them. Now they don’t have to deal with as much of the hoopla every night with the streak going. Obviously going for 73 is still a thing, but that remains a long ways away.
Michael: I actually wrote about that on Friday, how the Warriors had become prisoners of their own streak and were forced to play at playoff intensity in these early-season games and how chasing it cost them the opportunity to rest guys they otherwise would have. Now they’ll get to rest Curry and Green here and there and act like a more normal team instead of trying to play on edge for eight straight months. I still think they’re very much gunning to beat the 72-win record of the 95-96 Bulls though.
Jason: Excellent points. But now that the streak is over, what was your favorite/most memorable moment of it? There are obviously so many great Steph moments to pick from, but I think I’d go with the comebacks against the Clippers. The Clips had them on the ropes twice, but then the Warriors simply kicked into high gear in both games and wrecked them. It was surreal to watch, especially that second time.
Kelly: Ditto. You had a hunch Curry was going to happen.
Grant: I’ve told plenty of people that the Clippers comeback was my favorite Warriors moment in memory. That includes playoff and Finals wins, which sounds insane but, hey, the heart likes what it likes. I tend to evaluate the quality of Warriors wins by how much giggling I do during them, and there was a lot of giggling in that one as the deficit disappeared (twice).
It was just such a surreal manifestation of a team simply not understanding how to lose, and I think it’ll stand as a symbol for this team and whatever it ends up doing this year.
Michael: The Warriors scoring 25 points in their final 10 possessions at LA to blow away the Clippers was thrilling, but my most memorable moment of the streak came Nov. 14 vs. the Nets, in the moment where they were actually closer to losing than any other. The Nets were up three in the waning seconds and the Dubs inbounded the ball to Draymond Green inside the three-point line. Lionel Hollins elected to not foul, so Green had the opportunity to shovel the ball over to Andre Iguodala for the game-tying three. Right there was another significant victory for analytics and simple math over the old-school mentality of “doing the things the way we’ve always done them.”
The thing that’s important about the Warriors, besides how fun it is to watch them play, is that they will always, always, always punish you if you’re not playing as hard as possible and as smart as possible for 48 minutes. You lose your focus for a second and they punish you with a three. Anytime you have an opportunity to prevent them from taking threes in that spot, you have to take it.
Jason: Such silliness not to foul there.
One of the amusing things about the streak was that the boring Nets played the Warriors as well as anybody. They should’ve won that first game, and then the second game was competitive (with the Nets actually holding a third-quarter lead) before Steph just had enough of that.
Moving on…we’ve all kind of hit on this already, but do you think the Warriors will keep pushing hard for 73 wins? Do you think they SHOULD push for it? Beating that Bulls record would be nuts, but it doesn’t mean as much without the title.
Grant: Throughout the pursuit of the record win streak, you heard Walton and some of the players talk about how they owed it to themselves to try to set the mark once they got reasonably close, and I think that same logic is going to apply to the 72-10 goal. So I’m betting we won’t see the Warriors wave the white flag if they’re down by eight with two minutes left like, say, the Spurs sometimes do.
What we also won’t see is an instance like the one in Milwaukee, where Klay Thompson pushed himself back into the rotation despite clearly being less than 100 percent because of an ankle injury. The deeper into the season the Warriors get, the more health will become a priority.
Should they go for it? Probably not if a title’s the goal. I just don’t understand how you can simultaneously push for 73 wins and get key guys the amount of rest they’ll need. Then again, one team wins a championship every year, but nobody’s ever won 73…
Kelly: I think they should because I think that keeps them sharp. When you’re THIS good, you need to strive for something great to stay great.
Michael: Oh they’ll most definitely push for it. And why wouldn’t they? There are so few great teams in the league and Adam Silver has been more conscious about having more sensible schedules with fewer back-to-backs and four-in-fives than we’ve seen in previous seasons.
As long as Walton/Kerr keep their main guys playing in the mid-to-low 30s and rest them now and again against the Sixers and Lakers of the world, there’s no reason not to go for it if it’s doable. Besides, the Spurs are only 3.5 games back for home-court advantage!
Jason: Not to mention the Spurs are now ahead of them in average point differential! It really is wild that as ridiculous as the Warriors have been, the Spurs have basically been just as good. It sucks that they don’t play for another month, and if we don’t get a Spurs/Dubs WCF, that’s a damn shame.
Michael: The Spurs really need the Clippers to get hot and pass OKC for the No. 3 seed to have a chance, because beating the Thunder and Warriors back-to-back would take too much out of them. Either that or they need the Warriors to slump badly and take over the top record.
Kelly: I’ve had this thought for a while. The No. 1 seed is pretty crucial because of that. It just makes life so much easier.
And the Western Conference Finals is going to be SO legendary if it’s the Warriors and Spurs.
Michael: I don’t know if playing the Thunder would affect the Warriors in the same way it would the Spurs. The Warriors are a younger team and don’t face the athleticism disparity against those guys that the Spurs do. Maybe San Antonio can beat them, especially if they have home court, but it will take more out of them physically than it would the Warriors, I think.
Jason: Probably a fair point, and if we get Warriors/Thunder, Spurs/Clippers in the WCSF, that would be amazing.