Winning 74 games shouldn't define success for the Warriors
After making history a year ago -- for better or worse -- the Golden State Warriors somehow raised expectations by adding one of the league's best players to an already record-breaking core. After winning more games than any team in history, the Dubs now boast the most star-studded roster ever.
We've seen a glimpse of the new-look Death Lineup in the preseason. The depth chart looks like something out of 2K. But until the games get going for real, one question looms largest over this year's Warriors: How much better can they really get?
From the first week of the 2015-16 season, it was clear that Golden State had history in mind. By the time they took an undefeated record into mid-December, an NBA team winning 73 games seemed feasible for the first time in recent memory -- so they went for it.
"They" being not just the players, but more importantly, the coaching staff. The shackles were off, the blinders were on and, thanks to a perfect mix, they made history.
There's no doubt that these Warriors are more talented this time around, and the idea of Kevin Durant being able to sacrifice his personal achievements to jive with Golden State's overall gameplan seems more than feasible, if not definite.
The biggest factor working against the Warriors' pursuit of 74 wins, though, doesn't have to do with the players -- it'll come down to Steve Kerr letting his team go full-throttle for a regular-season record. And after the way 2016 ended, there's a strong argument against it.
Perhaps chalk it up to flukiness, but last year's Warriors dropped two of their last seven games to close the regular season. They were without Stephen Curry for much of the postseason's early going, and even after his return, were far from full strength.
The team lost consecutive games in the Western Conference Finals -- something it hadn't done all season -- and had to claw back from a three-games-to-one series deficit against Oklahoma City to win the West. And, in case the internet has let you forget, the Warriors lost their final three games of the NBA Finals, blowing a series lead of their own and ending a historically great season in historically embarrassing fashion.
It's acceptable, and sometimes even beneficial, to let a team loose. For last year's Warriors -- still young and fresh off a title nobody believed they were ready to win -- going for 73 was probably the right call at the time. Of course, hindsight now tells us it wasn't.
Could these Warriors one-up last year's team and top 73 wins? Even if given the chance, it would be incredibly difficult. Would they be able to come close? Almost definitely.
But 74 would be, as 73 was, quite an undertaking. So much so that Draymond Green told reporters he doesn't want the team to do it.
"Everybody is going to grow," he said. "And are you going to with 74 games? To be quite frank with you, I don't want to win 74 games or 75 games. It's brutal."
It's hard to believe Green is the only Warrior in that locker room of that belief. After getting bruised and battered for the last several months of the year, Curry probably wouldn't mind Golden State taking its foot off the gas for stretches, too.
Seventy-four wins won't define success for these Warriors -- being the Western Conference's best team, and sustaining that success over two months of postseason play, will.
And, at this point, it doesn't seem like those two goals can live together in harmony.
By: John Dorn
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