With the NBA Playoffs looming, the Golden State Warriors' historic season remains the hottest story. The Warriors bolstered their odds of setting the record for wins in a season on Thursday night when they held off the San Antonio Spurs in a possible Western Conference finals preview.
The Warriors, behind the stellar play of MVP frontrunner Stephen Curry, became only the second team to reach the 70-win plateau. Curry poured in a team-high 27 points and nine assists to raise Golden State's record to 70-9, joining the record-holding 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, who finished with a 72-10 record.
Golden State has three games remaining on their schedule to eclipse the Bulls. That Michael Jordan-led squad went on to win the NBA title, which is the ultimate goal for the Warriors. Golden State will make a two-game road trip to Memphis and San Antonio and close the regular season at home again against the Grizzlies. Memphis currently owns the West’s No. 5 seed, and San Antonio hasn’t lost at home all season.
There has been talk that Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who played on the record-setting Bulls team, may rest players instead of making a big push for the record. With home-court advantage sewn up after Thursday's win, Golden State's final games have little significance other than their chase for history.
The postseason begins on Saturday, April 16, with teams still angling for better seedings. The final two postseason berths are still up for grabs in both the West and East, with the No. 7 Indiana Pacers and No. 8 Detroit Pistons holding the last two spots in the East. The Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards are major longshots to reach the playoffs with about four games remaining.
In the West the race is a little tighter. The Dallas Mavericks maintain the No. 7 seed and the Utah Jazz No. 8, but the Houston Rockets are only 1.5 games back of Utah.
If the playoffs started today, the East would look like this:
No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 8 Detroit Pistons
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Indiana Pacers
No. 3 Atlanta Hawks vs. No. 6 Charlotte Hornets
No. 4 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat
However, only 1.5 games separate Atlanta, Boston, Miami, and Charlotte, and there could be some jostling in the standings before the regular season ends.
The West could also see some significant movement in the standings and many of the projected postseason matchups could change. Here's a look at the West if the playoffs started today:
No. 1 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 8 Utah Jazz
No. 2 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
No. 3 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. No. 5 Memphis Grizzlies
But, similar to the East, only 2.5 games separate Memphis, Portland, Dallas, and Utah, with Houston still hoping to climb.
After the first round, the conference semifinals are currently scheduled to beginning on May 2, but could move up to April 30 or May 1 depending on how long the opening series shape up.
Each conference final is set for May 17, but could also move up to May 15 or 16, while the NBA Finals have a hard start date of June 2.