For a team that could set the record for most wins in a season – and for a team that has utterly dominated the NBA’s elite – the Golden State Warriors have had some head-scratching losses: at Milwaukee, at Los Angeles (the Lakers, not the Clippers), and against Minnesota, among others.
But a funny thing has happened after each Warriors loss this season: Golden State has won its next game – almost always in convincing fashion.
“This team, they have a correct stubbornness,” Warriors play-by-play voice Tim Roye said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “They hate to lose, and they respond to losses. They’re undefeated after losses this year. They haven’t lost two in a row. Earlier in the season, they had a three-game road trip. It was at Detroit, at Chicago, at Cleveland. They went to Detroit and the Pistons just were ready for them and the Warriors were not emotionally ready for that game. They were flat and Detroit just handled them. I mean, Detroit handled the Warriors that night.”
The Pistons won, 113-95, on January 16 to drop the Warriors to 37-4.
Golden State responded by beating Cleveland by 44, Chicago by 31, Indiana by 12, San Antonio by 30 and Dallas by 20.
“They hate losing,” Roye said. “They don’t respond well to losing to the rest of the league. They really get fired up about it.”
When the Warriors survived the Jazz, 103-96, in overtime on March 30, they improved to 68-7, and 72+ wins seemed a foregone conclusion. Golden State, however, lost two of its next three, both at home – this after winning 54 straight games at ORACLE. One of the losses, against Boston (47-34), can be rationalized. The other loss, against Minnesota (28-53), cannot.
“To be fair, they were a little emotionally spent going into the Minnesota game because they had just been hammered with all of the media attention about 73,” Roye said. “I think the fact that it was the Spurs two of the last four helped them. It helped them regain their focus. It helped them regain their edge – because they knew, ‘Hey, if we don’t go in ready to play against these guys, they’re going to embarrass us.’”
Indeed, the Warriors beat the Spurs, 112-101, at home last Thursday and 92-86 on the road Sunday to notch their 72nd win of the season. Golden State (72-9) can make history in its regular-season finale against Memphis (42-38) on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.
But beating the Spurs (65-15) twice was critical – not just for the record, but for securing home-court advantage in the playoffs.
“Remember: they’ve been right behind the Warriors all year long,” Roye said. “It took the Warriors 70 wins – only the second team in NBA history (to reach that number) – it took them to win 70 to clinch home court in the West. That’s how good the Spurs have been. So I think in one sense, it’s kind of good the Spurs showed up when they did because it kind of gave them . . . (their) edge back. They’ve responded well in both of the games against San Antonio.”