If there’s a looser NBA squad than the Warriors, they’re hiding it well.
Golden State is just a few hours of sleep, a few hours of ritual, and a few hours worth of hydration and eating, from making history. But the team comes off like their playing pickup volleyball on the beaches of Santa Cruz.
Despite the preparation, in the face of the impossibility of connecting to the world and not hearing about the Warriors flirtation with an NBA wins record. Loose. But clearly determined.
The Warriors can’t focus on anything but a win versus Memphis. Breaking the record at home is important to the team. It would be important on the road, but cue the Disney music.
Roll out a magic carpet.
Prepare the Genie for freedom. Because emancipation from the emotions of a goal that has been in players’ minds for a while now, is a mere 24 hours away.
Draymond Green said:
“You can’t not talk about it at this point. The whole world is talking about it. … Honestly, realistically, I didn’t think it could be done. Until win 50 or something like that. Like man, we’re still on pace. Even starting 24-and-0, there’s still 50 more wins. That’s tough to do. When we got to 50, 50-and-4 or 50-and-5, and then you’re looking at it like ‘alright, it’s a real possibility.'”
The Warriors are doing it despite their head coach being out for the first half of the season, Steve Kerr needed multiple offseason back surgeries and there was never a real return date established until the day actually came. He dealt with severe headaches and other symptoms of the recovery process even during his return to coaching.
Their schedule was one of the most brutal in the league. Golden State played 20 back-to-back games, tied for most in the league with the Pistons, Rockets, and Clippers.
All while their loudest, most raucous fans, who gave Oracle Arena a reputation as the loudest in the league, were priced out — just the deposit for a lower bowl season seat was more than the prior year’s total price.
As fate would have it, too, Curry came out with championship level sarcasm just before the regular season got underway. Last October Curry said:
“I just want to say, I apologize for us being healthy. I apologize for us playing who’s in front of us. I apologize for all the accolades we’ve received as a team and individually. I’m very, truly sorry. We’ll rectify that situation this year.”
There’s no sarcasm needed, now. It’s been made clear that the Warriors are as good as it gets, tying the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for most regular season wins.
Despite the target on their back. Regardless of 29 other NBA teams focused solely on figuring them out, and trying to devise a gameplan that would end with a Warriors demise.
The only team to beat the Golden State Warriors, this season, are the Golden State Warriors. Just them playing poorly. Beating themselves. Of course another team, another city, gained some bragging rights.
But now, Curry says, they’re focused on their own:
“We have an opportunity to do something that’s never been done in history. So many great players have suited up since the NBA began. And for us 15 guys to say we’ve accomplished something as a group that’s never been done before, that’s remarkable. We’ve earned that right to have a 48 minute game to eclipse that mark. And we have to go out and finish the job.”
Kerr had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday, and Luke Walton — the team’s interim head coach during the first half of the season, who is back to his normal assistant coach role — manned the helm.
Walton said that he enjoys having the helm during final preparation, and the irony is present. Walton started this thing. At least in a more present tense.
Which suits the team well. Even if it was an honest scheduling issue, since a free day hasn’t been there for over a month. And so Walton conveyed the basis for what Kerr wants the team to know:
“A message Steve has been giving the guys, we’ve had injuries all year, and the only reason we’re in this position is the team. Different players stepping up, different people starting. Ian had a nice run while Leandro Barbosa was out. Brandon Rush was phenomenal when Harrison Barnes was out. Festus Ezeli for Andrew Bogut. Same type of thing. Mo Speights for Festus. We don’t want this record with starters playing 48 minutes. We only want this record if everyone is going to be out there participating and getting these last couple wins.”
Angels guiding the way
The Los Angeles Angels, who are in town during a three-game set with the Oakland A’s this week, stopped by the Warriors’ practice facility Tuesday and had some fun. And gained so bragging rights of their own.
Mike Trout, arguably the most talented baseball player in a generation, beat Green in a game of PIG. Pitcher Joe Smith beat Curry.
It wasn’t the most competitive for the Warriors, but it was an obvious chance to decompress and vibe with some of the world’s best from another sport. Curry said that he’s watched first baseman Albert Pujols for a long time, and enjoyed finally getting a chance to meet him.
Curry also gave credit to Trout, hands down one of the game’s top five active players. Photos were taken. Tweets were shared. And some relaxation was gained.
Which could be meaningful come tomorrow night.