Less than a week ago, the Golden State Warriors needed five wins in their last seven games in order to set the all-time NBA record with 73 wins. It seemed to be a simple task for a team that started off the year 24-0 and had won 54 consecutive home games, but the defending champs find themselves needing to beat the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night if they want to make history.
April has not been kind to the Warriors, who have lost two out of three games to start the month. Four days after losing at home to the Boston Celtics, Golden State was once again upset at Oracle Arena, this time blowing a 15-point lead and losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime.
With nine losses on the season, Golden State is looking to close out the regular season with four consecutive victories, two of which will have to come against the Spurs. San Antonio trails Golden State by just three games in the loss column, and they can get the No.1 seed if the Warriors continue to struggle down the stretch.
Golden State remains the NBA’s best team, and they still haven’t lost two games in a row at any point in the season. But their quest to break the record set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, whom Warriors head coach Steve Kerr played for, might be affecting the team’s play.
“We are trying to make the great play. We are trying to hit the home run instead of a bunch of singles,” Kerr said after Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota. “When we start doing that, it takes away from the rhythm of the game and usually that leads to turnovers.”
It might not be all that surprising to see Golden State finish the season like this. Chicago struggled down the stretch in 1996, losing two of their final four home games. The Bulls went on to lose just one game in the Eastern Conference playoffs before beating the Seattle SuperSonics in six games in the NBA Finals.
The Spurs have been almost as good as the Warriors this season, but they haven’t been unbeatable on the road. They are 26-12 away from San Antonio, and the Spurs lost by 30 points in their one visit to Golden State this season. San Antonio defeated the Warriors by eight points when they met at the AT&T Center on March 19. The Warriors have 5/9 odds of advancing out of the Western Conference, while the Spurs are 2/1 favorites to reach the finals.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich isn’t expected to rest the team’s starters, but Golden State is favored to bounce back. Las Vegas sportsbooks have made the Warriors seven-point favorites, via VegasInsider.com, and the over/under is 209 points.
Thursday’s game will air on national television. TNT will have the game for most of the country at 10:30 p.m. ET, but fans in Golden State’s television market will have to watch locally on CSN Bay Area.
I'm being told TNT has reached its limit of Warriors games and is blacked out in the Bay Area
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) April 6, 2016
A free live stream can be seen online with WatchTNT.