When the 2015-16 NBA season kicked off, fans knew that the defending champion Golden State Warriors would once again be a championship contender, but no-one had any idea that the team would go on to rewrite the record books over the course of the season. Four games into their campaign, it was obvious that fans were going to be witnessing something special after the Warriors had demolished their opponents by more than 100 points combined!
It was around this time that the narrative of beating the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls record began. Questions of whether it was possible were asked of then interim head coach, Luke Walton. At the time Walton laughed off the comparison, but as the season progressed and his group were breaking new league records every week, the thought that they could actually break the Bulls’ record became more and more of a reality.
Last Sunday, the Warriors faced their toughest competitor as they took part in the second game of a two game road trip against the Spurs. After almost a decade without a victory in San Antonio, Golden State showed why they are the best team in the world taking the W, and equaling the 72 wins of that legendary Chicago Bulls team.
Wednesday was the final day of the NBA regular season, and with one more chance to finish with an incredible 73-9 record, the Warriors relished their chance to embrace basketball immortality.
Taking on Memphis, the result was never in question. The last time the two teams met at Oracle Arena, the Dubs walked away with a 50 point win, the third largest in franchise history. This time around, it didn’t look like the result was going to be any different as the Warriors were out to prove a point. With Curry on fire from long range, the Dubs lead was already out to 14 points by the first break, as the roar of the fans intensified.
Things didn’t get much better for the Grizzlies. The Splash Brothers decided to step things up to the next level, adding a combined 41 points by the half, and pushing their lead out to 20. Although Memphis played a solid second half and matched defending champs on the scoreboard, the damage was done, and it was too little too late. Turnovers have been the achilles heel Golden State this season, especially over the past month. Not so on Wednesday. The Warriors played a much more focused game, keeping the number of turnovers low and running a their brand of fast flowing offense that opened up the floor for the shooters. In the end, the Warriors cruised to a 21-point victory.
There were only two players that appeared in all 82 of the 95-96 Bulls regular season games. Those players were Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr. Now the head coach of the Warriors, Kerr is a key part of the best, and second best records in NBA history.
Speaking on getting win number 73, Kerr said: “It’s a great way to finish off what was an amazing regular season. I told our guys that I never guessed in a million years that the record would be broken. I was wrong. But I’m going to say the same thing that I said twenty years ago, and I don’t think this one will ever be broken. I’m proud and happy to be a part of it and feel very lucky to be in the position that i’m in coaching these guys.”
A point of contention for Kerr towards the end of the season has been trying to get some rest into his starters so they are fresh for the playoffs. His players saw the issue very differently though, and were adamant that they play their regular minutes to make sure that the record was broken.
“It’s a relief (to reach 73) especially getting through it in full health,” Kerr continued. “We’ve got all our players open for Saturday’s playoff opener and everybody’s in a good spot, that was my main concern coming down the stretch.”
Draymond Green was the loudest voice in pushing for breaking the record. Speaking after the win Green said, “It was incredible. To get here and reach this, it’s been 20 years since it’s been done, and I don’t know when it will be done again. To be the team to break that record, that’s incredible man.”
Center Andrew Bogut has said all season that a ring comes before any records, but speaking post game he mentioned: “It’s history, but there’s added pressure on us now to win the championship. With great things comes more responsibility, and this is one of those things. We’re obviously going to enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow it’s back to business.”
“We fought hard didn’t take a night off all year, and it’s hard to do for 82 games,” said Klay Thompson
Talking about the difference between the Bulls and his team, Steph Curry said that the game has evolved over time, but the one thing they both have in common is that “we love winning.”
Stephen Curry also had his eye on a record of his own. Heading into the game he was only 8 three pointers away from reaching a staggering 400 made three pointers for the season, smashing the current record by more than 100 made threes, a record which he also owned.
If you’re relying on a player in the league to hit eight three-pointers in a game, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But Stephen Curry isn’t your average player. Curry wasted no time in hunting down the record burying 6 shots from long range in the first quarter alone, and hit his 8th of the game to bring up his 400 within the first 30 seconds of the second half. A heavy hit from Zach Randolph sent Warrior fans into a temporary panic as their hero hit the deck, but he walked away unscathed and finished the game with 46 points including 30 from long range.
After getting nervous about breaking the same record last year, this time around Curry wan’t going to make the same mistakes. “Tonight coming in, obviously we want to win the game, and I didn’t want to break that just to launch threes,” he said. “But I saw a point where I was able to tow the line a couple of times and knock it down and things started to flow.
“I was searching for it at that point because I made a couple so I let it come to me and had some fun with it.”
Reflecting on his season, Curry said he still wants to improve his game. “This season I’ve put up number that I work for, and I try to elevate my game to that. The 50-40-90 club (50% FG, 40% 3PTFG, 90% FT) is something as a shooter that I find pretty special over 79 games being able to shoot volume and accuracy, that’s why I shoot all the reps that I do and go out and play the way that I do. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment.”
“I want to be great, I want to be the best I can be. I think I’ve found a way that in these last couple of years to keep getting better and keep doing little things that you might not see in the summer and they’re all things that really help my confidence when I’m out there on the floor and that I really can do anything. That’s what I’m about.”
Fellow splash brother Klay Thompson says “I’m amazed by Steph.” He continues “To get 400 threes in a season? That’s hard to put into words. He makes it look so easy. Congrats to Steph.”
Talking about Curry chasing the 400, coach Kerr talked about how that personal greed is good for the team. “If he’s greedy, it helps us,” said Kerr. W”e want him looking for his shot, attacking all the time being aggressive, and he had a spectacular night. He just had one of the most amazing seasons that anyone had ever had in the history of the league.”
With the regular season out of the way, the Warriors have now shifted their focus onto taking care of business in the playoffs and defending their championship. After a 34-point win against Sacramento, Houston wrapped up the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets now face the toughest challenge in basketball as they match-up against Golden State in the first round of the playoffs.
Watching the Warriors smash records night after night throughout the regular season has been amazing for fans to watch, but now let’s see what they can do in the post season.
Records Broken by the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors during the regular season:
• Nov. 2 – Largest win-margin over the first four games of a season. The Warriors tallies the largest winning margin ever (100 points) over the first fours games of the season.
• Dec. 5 – Best-ever start to a season. Golden State got off to a blazing start to the season, but it was against Toronto at home where they hit 21-0 to break the record. They then powered on to reach 24-0 before the Milwaukee Bucks beat them on their home floor on Dec. 12.
• Feb. 10 – Best-ever All-Star break record. Cruising into All-Star Weekend with a 48-4 record, we all knew that more records were set to fall over the coming months.
• Feb. 27 – Quickest playoff berth ever. It only took until Feb 27th for Golden State to secure a playoff berth. No team had ever achieved this so early in the season with two months of regular season games still to come.
• Feb. 27 – Most single-season threes by one player. Steph Curry did what he does best this season and piled on the shots from long range obliterating his previous record. Curry now holds the top three spots of all time.
• March 7 – First player to hit 300 threes in one campaign. In their victory over Orlando, Curry hit his 300th three of the season, a mark that has never been broken before.
• March 7 – Longest-ever home court winning streak. On the same night that Curry broke the 300 mark, his team also became the first ever to reach 45 consecutive regular season home victories, a streak that extends back to their 2014-2015 season. The 1995-9 Chicago Bulls previously held the record, winning 44 straight in the mid-90s. The Warriors would have their winning streak broken at 54 wins on April 1st against the Boston Celtics.
• March 25 – Most threes in one game. A game that featured relatively no defense against Dallas Mavericks helped the teams to set the record for most made threes in single-game history (39). The Warriors broke their own record only 14 days after and they, along with The Portland Trail Blazers had made in rain setting a new record of 37.
• March 27 – First teammate duo to drain 600 threes. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are the first teammates to hit more than 600 threes combined in one season.
• April 13 – First player to hit 400 threes in one campaign. During the last game of the regular season, Stephen Curry hit 10 shots from long range, including 6 in the first quarter, to surpass the 400 3 pointer mark for the season.
• April 13 – Best NBA Season Record (73-9). The previous record of one less win was set buy the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and many thought that it would never be broken. Golden State left it until the last game of the season, but they finished in style shattering another Bulls record.
Feature Image – CBS Sports
Story Images – nola.com and Mercury News