Win or lose it will be behind them on Wednesday…then their season starts.
Using the word history in the context of the Warriors’ probable eclipsing of the most NBA regular-season wins on the last game of the season Wednesday is a misnomer. It’s not that the event doesn’t carry more weight than a CrossFitter believes he or she can, or that it will make some people happy like when they’re home with a sick kiddo and Max Dugan Returns pops up on midday HBO—but history is the wrong label to affix.
For starters, there’s a huge *if statement to put as at least a place holder should the record be codified. It goes something like this: If they go on to win the NBA championship.
The Warriors will likely get a difficult draw in the first round against the 40-40 Utah Jazz. Golden State has swept (4-0) their series this year, but Utah’s exactly the type of team (see: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and Minnesota) the Warriors have stumbled against down the stretch.
The Warriors’ team Kesuke Miyagi, Draymond Green, who plays every position with deftness, but none better than when he’s behind the mic post-game, said those recent gaffes against the young and hungry were mental errors, or at their worst—signs of boredom. Heady stuff from a man who is essentially a first-year starter himself this season.
But there’s a scary subtext in Green’s sentiment: Young teams are streaky and unpredictable. And five-game playoff sets are so Machiavellian in nature, the only thing I can think of more unexpectedly worse is when Tom “Karate” Hanks kicked the Fonz’s ass in front of his girlfriend at Al’s.
A team like Utah can be so bad one quarter then go off for 40 the next that teams like the Warriors, who are used to bringing their best against the steady San Antonios and Oklahoma Cities of the world, can be lulled into a false sense of comfort only to find themselves off-balance and down by a dozen with four minutes left. Think of it as when you’re beating the neighbor kid H-O-R-S to H and start doing trick shots only to find yourself suddenly missing a left-handed behind-the-back layup for the loss.
Win or lose Wednesday, the best reference point for the playoff road ahead for the Warriors is 2007. That’s the year the Mavericks, the NBA’s best team, ran into a Warrior squad helmed by Baron Davis with supporting cast of castoffs transitioning away from professional relevance in Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson and Andris Biedriņš. The Warriors won that series in six and went on to lose to Utah in the second round—which doesn’t matter because all anyone remembers of that entire playoff was Baron Davis doing this to Andrei Kirilenko—then lifting his shirt up like a two-year-old at bath time or a girl drunk on Dixie Beer in the French Quarter circa 1998 trolling for gropey Joe Francis holding a stack of half-tees and waivers.
Also in 2007, David Tyree caught a ball with his helmet to derail the Patriots’ perfect season. So now all anyone remembers of that year, besides using New England as a cautionary tale when referencing teams like the 2016 Warriors, is this:
At an average age of 24.1 years, Utah is tied with Milwaukee as the NBA’s youngest team. Don’t recognize names like Shelvin Mack, Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood and Trey Lyles? Better start doing your homework. Utah has four legit double-digit scoring threats on the court at all times and Hayward and Gobert have become nightly double-double threats.
Seventy-three is a big number now, and Wednesday portends perhaps the most significant home game for the Warriors since Adonal Foyle broke the franchise record for blocked shots in. you guessed it, 2007; but it won’t mean much should Golden State find themselves knotted 2-2 with the Jazz around April 20.