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Can Warriors Get to 33-0 and Break Another Record?
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The Warriors have won their first 16 games of the season, which is ridiculous. So talking about them doubling that streak is doubly ridiculous.
But these Warriors are so good it’s not illogical to ponder the improbable. So we have to ask: How long can this streak go? Can the Warriors break the record of 33 consecutive wins set by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971-72?
The Warriors’ win streak is technically at 20 because they ended the regular season last year with four wins in a row. But the single-season record — the Lakers won their 33 in the same season — is the big deal. That’s the Holy Grail. The closest any team has come to it was the 2012-13 Miami Heat with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. They made it to 27.
So what’s standing between the Warriors and 33?
The opponents might be the least of their obstacles. Undoubtedly, the Warriors could lose to any team on any night. They probably should have lost to a one-win Brooklyn team two weeks ago. They trailed the first 43 minutes of the game, by as many as 15 points, and still were down three points with nine seconds to play.
But not until Dec. 25 will the Warriors face a team that can handle their A-game. Even the Dec. 25 opponent — LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — won’t be favored on the Warriors’ home floor.
Still, there are teams that could end The Streak if the Warriors aren’t on their game.
Friday’s opponent, the Phoenix Suns, is one of those teams. The Suns are a high-scoring team that plays at a pace even faster than the Warriors. And they will be playing at home.
Utah, the opponent next Monday, is one of the better defensive teams in the league and it also will be playing at home. The Jazz could possibly lull the Warriors into a grinding, possession game and maybe pull it out at the end.
The Toronto Raptors are legit. They nearly beat the Warriors in Oakland on Nov. 17 (game No. 12) and they could be a problem in the Dec. 2 rematch in Toronto. The next night, there’s a rematch in Brooklyn. Two nights later, Dec. 8, the Warriors play at Indiana, one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. That will be the fifth game of a seven-game trip, and the third game in four nights.
But none of those teams is really scary. If the Warriors are on their game, they can definitely beat any of those teams. They have more talent and more depth than any of them.
The question is whether they can bring their A-game every night.
The Warriors’ historic start — the record was 15-0, achieved twice in 70 years — is being diminished by some folks who cite strength-of-schedule. The schedule looked imposing at the start of the season. The first five games were against teams who made the playoffs last season, and there have been 10 such games overall. But because a few of those teams — Houston, Memphis, New Orleans and the Los Angeles Clippers — have stumbled out of the gate, the Warriors are vulnerable to claims of having played a soft schedule.
But what gets overlooked is the rigorous scheduling. The Warriors already have played four “back-to-backs,” two games in two nights. Four of their road games were at least two time zones away, and another was played in the high altitude of Denver. They’ve had a stretch of five games in seven nights, and a stretch of three games in four nights.
The Warriors annually travel more miles than any other team in the league. And with a seven-game trip starting Monday — it ends Dec. 12, one of the longest trips in anyone’s memory — will they have the energy to keep taking the opponent’s best shot?
It stands to reason there will be a game they don’t have their legs. And the other team is extra motivated to take down the champions and end The Streak.
But so far, the Warriors have been able to flip the switch and exert their will, even in games they haven’t played well. They’ve been able to overcome weary legs with a crazy spurt that puts inferior teams into submission.
If they beat Phoenix and then Sacramento on Saturday night, and then sweep this trip, theWarriors will be 25-0 and the buzz will be crazy. They will come home for three days rest and then start a five-game stand at Oracle that includes Cleveland on Dec. 25 and the potential record-breaker three nights later against Sacramento.
By then, another obstacle will have risen tall: pressure.
Ultimately, the Warriors’ toughest foe will be history. Our obsession will become their irritation. The hype will add to the difficulty. That’s an element the Lakers didn’t have to deal with 40-some years ago. It’s the same element that stifled the Heat’s streak three years ago.
But the Warriors are just loose enough, and have such great chemistry, it’s not silly to think that even pressure will succumb to them. This team is that ridiculous.
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