Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
VIDEO: Can the Warriors surpass the Bulls’ mark from 1995-96?
> To top Chicago’s 72 regular-season victories, the Warriors must win 25 of their final 30 games. Will they do it?
David Aldridge, TNT analyst: No. But how about a tie?
While I normally don’t ascribe to schedule-based predicting, the Warriors have been so consistently dominant so far it’s a little easier than normal to feel comfortable going that route. And I see the Warriors going 24-6 down the stretch. All due respect to Portland, which Golden State plays three times in the last 30 games, but the Warriors are going 3-0 against the Blazers. Two games with Minnesota equal two more wins. Same with Orlando in two games; two more Ws. Since Golden State hasn’t yet lost at home, I feel fairly confident penciling them in for wins vs. Atlanta, Phoenix, New Orleans, New York, Dallas, the Clippers, Philly and Washington. That’s 15 wins. If Chris Bosh is out for at least a while, the Warriors’ Feb. 24 game at Miami looks easier. The Warriors’ March 6 game at the Lakers already is easy. That’s 17.
And that leaves the 13 toughest games on the schedule: three with the Spurs (two in San Antonio), two with the Thunder (home/away), two with the Grizzlies (home/away–in the last week of the season), and six others: two against Utah (home/away), an April 1 home game against Boston and single road games in Atlanta, Dallas and L.A. (Clippers). I just can’t believe an NBA team — even one as good as the Warriors — can go undefeated at home, so I’m going to give the Warriors two home Ls down the stretch — not sure against whom, but for the sake of the exercise let’s say OKC on March 3 and Boston on April 1, while the Warriors beat the Spurs, Thunder and Utah at Oracle. And, Golden State has to have a couple of bad nights sometime down the stretch, so I’ll put them down for road losses March 18 in Dallas and March 30 in Utah. In case you haven’t noticed, San Antonio’s been pretty good at home this season, too, so I think the Spurs beat the Warriors in San Antonio March 19. That leaves the last three games of the season: at Memphis (April 9), at San Antonio (April 10) and vs. Memphis (April 13) in the regular-season finale.
I’ll give the Warriors a win in Memphis to go 71-9, with two games left. But I just can’t see the Spurs not rising up, especially at AT&T Center, with a monster effort to deny Golden State’s shot at history, giving them loss number 10. But the Warriors bounce back to beat the Grizz in game 82 to equal Chicago’s 72-10 record, then go on to defend their championship — setting up decades of bar arguments about which all-time team was better — Stephen Curry’s Warriors or Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Normally we leave the mathematical heavy-lifting on this site to John Schuhmann, who carries slide rules and calculators the way the rest of us tote pens and phones. But most of can look at 48-4 (.923) and figure out that 25-5 (.833) is kinda, sorta “easier.” I get that Golden State has a serious speed bump ahead – three games in the final month with San Antonio – and a mostly West schedule. I also get that its first priority is repeating as NBA champions, so being healthy and relatively fresh for the playoffs is the top objective. But a sizable part of this team’s success, never mind appeal, has been its willingness to embrace these sort of challenges. The winning streak to start the season didn’t drain the Warriors – it propelled them toward this special opportunity and they’re none the worse for it. Besides, the way they compete and throttle many opponents (12.5 points per game differential), they’re getting rest in fourth quarters. So 73-9 looks like the next gold standard.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: It all depends on health. The Warriors have embraced the challenge and made it part of their identity. No reason to think they just can’t keep on keeping on.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Yes. And I’m someone who said early that it wouldn’t happen, that the road to 72 is just too long. But the Warriors kept winning at a wild rate, to the point that a 25-5 finish would actually be slowing down. This is a team that wants challenges and that loves the idea of history being another opponent. While the previous statements from coach Steve Kerr and interim coach/assistant coach Luke Walton hold true and Golden State won’t give up the chance to rest players to be ready for the playoffs, if it gets to the final week and the record is right in front of the Warriors, they’re going for it.
Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Yes, they will. It helps that two of their three remaining games against the Spurs will happen in the final week of the season, when San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich will rest his geezers for the playoffs. Anyway, the Warriors are too deep into a groove that refuses to hit a speed bump. Stephen Curry says if they’re close to the record, they’ll go for it, and why not? They may never be in this position again.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: Yes. They should definitely get some guys rest and prioritize May and June, but they can rest players against bad teams and still beat them. They have three more games against the Spurs and two against the Thunder, but they also have 15 games left against teams that are currently .500 or below (and 10 of those are at home). If they use those as their rest days (for one or two guys at a time), they’ll minimize their losses.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The Warriors have given us every reason (48 of them to be exact before the All-Star break) to believe they have a 25-5 finish in them. They showed no signs of fatigue and barring a catastrophic injury to one of their key players, they should give great chase to the 72-win mark. I say they do it and have a chance in the final week to perhaps beat the record by a game. They are that good.
Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: They are going to do it. They’ve been the hungriest team all year, and that hunger is going to grow as the 73rd win looms. Health permitting, they are going to break the record – and I’m hoping they push it up to 74 or 75, just to emphasize how good they are and how much they care.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: They will. As Draymond Green mentioned to Sekou Smith and I last weekend in Toronto while taping the Hang Time Podcast, winning 25 of 30 “sounds doable.” Actually, I wonder if they’ll get to 73 wins, then rest guys the last few games of the regular season. Or, considering how much those guys get to sit out fourth quarters now, maybe they’ll go all-out the rest of the way and finish with like 76 wins?