Spurs-Warriors, a historically good matchup by the numbers

VIDEO: Brent Barry looks ahead Monday night’s match-up between the Spurs and Warriors.

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — It’s the matchup we’ve been waiting three months for.

The San Antonio Spurs visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV), the first meeting between what have been the league’s two best teams by a wide margin.

The Warriors are on pace for the best record in NBA history, while the Spurs are on pace for the best point differential in NBA history. And they’re each on pace to make history on one end of the floor or the other.

It’s hard to argue that this isn’t the biggest regular season matchup we’ve seen in our lifetimes. In fact, it’s the first time in NBA history that two teams with winning percentages better than .850 have played each other this late in the season.

There are several staggering numbers to digest when it comes to these two teams. Here’s a look at some of them.

Historically good offense

The league started counting turnovers in 1977. Since then, the league’s five best offenses, comparing team efficiency to the league average, have been run by Steve Nash. Now Nash’s current team (he’s a consultant for the Warriors) is on pace to eclipse any mark that his teams registered in Dallas or Phoenix.

Through their first 44 games, the Warriors have scored 10.0 points per 100 possessions above the league average, making them the best offense of the last 39 years.


The Warriors are a below-average team in regard to turnover rate and free throw rate. They rank 10th in offensive rebounding percentage, but their offensive success is almost entirely about how well they’ve shot the ball.

The champs’ effective field goal percentage of 56.0 percent is the highest mark in NBA history. Their 3-point percentage is the second-highest in NBA history, and they also rank in the top five in field goal percentage from both the restricted area and mid-range.

San Antonio isn’t too bad offensively either. In fact, the Spurs have led the league in offensive efficiency since Dec. 1. They lead the league in field goal percentage in the restricted area and are the only team other than the Warriors that has shot better than 40 percent from outside the paint.

Historically good defense

The Spurs are doing on defense what the Warriors are doing on offense. They’ve allowed 9.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than the league average, the best mark since the league started counting turnovers in 1977.


San Antonio leads the league in opponent effective field goal percentage. They’ve been the best in the league at defending the restricted area and forcing mid-range shots, the least efficient shots on the floor. They also lead the league in defensive rebounding percentage (with the highest mark since the league starting counting offensive and defensive rebounds separately in 1973) and rank third in opponent free throw rate, allowing less than 24 free throws per 100 shots from the field.

The Warriors can play some defense too. They led the league in defensive efficiency last season and rank third this season, ranking in the top 10 in opponent field goal percentage in the paint, from mid-range and from 3-point range. They’ve allowed the fewest corner 3-point attempts.

A league of their own

Put elite offense and elite defense together and you’ll do more than just win games. You’ll rack up a strong point differential as well. And on a per-possession basis, these two teams have the best point differentials of the last 29 years.


Six of the other eight teams on the list above won the championship.

15 is the magic number

You do not want to fall into a deep hole against the Warriors, who have won the last 91 games that they’ve led by 15 points or more, a streak that goes back to April of 2014. On their way to a championship last season, they went 47-0 in the regular season and 12-0 in the playoffs when leading by at least 15 points. This season, they’re 29-0, though they’ve had a couple of close calls.

Other teams have had longer such streaks, but none of them led by 15 or more in more than half their games during those streaks. The Warriors have led by 15-plus in an amazing 58 percent of their games since the streak started more than 21 months ago.


The champs still have a long way to go to match the mark set by the Spurs, who have been putting together another run of their own. San Antonio has won the last 58 games it has led by 15 or more points, a streak that goes back to last Jan. 10. And they’ve led by 15-plus in 60 percent of their games over the streak.

This season, the Spurs are 30-0 in games in which they’ve had a lead of at least 15 points. They’ve already set a franchise record with 12 wins by 25 points or more.

Our house

No team in NBA history has ever gone undefeated at home, but both of these teams are about halfway there. The Spurs are 24-0 at the AT&T Center and have won 33 straight regular-season home games, dating back to March 12, 2015.

The Warriors are 20-0 at Oracle Arena this season. If they beat the Spurs on Monday, it will have been a full year since they last lost a regular season home game. And over the course of their 38-game home winning streak, they’ve outscored their opponents by 15.9 points per 100 possessions.

The Warriors have a better road record than the Spurs, but San Antonio has the league’s best road NetRtg, having outscored its opponents by 13.0 points per 100 possessions in their 20 road games.


  1. Pyon says:

    The numbers are great but they don’t always equal into the best basketball to watch as a fan. I stand by the Suns, in that they have been the funnest team to watch play with their “Run and Gun” style basketball. Just a thought.

  2. lbj says:

    Pop should try a small ball line up of his own:

    Mills, McCallum, Simmons, Anderson, Diaw.

    Pop leaves everybody else at home in San Antonio except for Marjanovic so he can stare down Draymond.

  3. SpursAllDay says:

    Hopefully Spurs take it!

  4. Aeddi says:

    This is the most awaited game of the season until now.
    I wonder if the Warriors will play their smallball lineup. I think it would be good if they don’t do it in the regular season so Pop won’t get a chance to play against it and try out potential counter lineups.

  5. teokun says:

    damn those 95-96 Bulls. Defense wins.