Golden State Warriors: The road to 72 wins and beyond

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Football News

The Golden State Warriors are a team on the brink of history. The anticipation surrounding the icing on the record-breaking cake has been palpable within the league for months. Ever since they went 24-0 to start the season, the question has been begged: can they do it?

As just about everybody on earth should know by now, the Chicago Bulls set a regular season record of 72-10 back in 1995-96, inspired by arguably the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan.

After defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday evening, the Warriors are now also on 72 victories. However, they have one game remaining with the Memphis Grizzlies - who they defeated on the road last week - at the Oracle Arena on Thursday, April 14.

The stage is now set. Will the Warriors eclipse the great Jordan and his fearsome Bulls? Or will they share the limelight and fall at the final hurdle?

After all, they only squeaked past Memphis by one point. A record of 72-10 may yet beckon, which, would be quite poetic given the hysteria surrounding the chase.

Whatever the outcome, the Warriors' journey to this point has been nothing short of groundbreaking. They've defied typical, time-trusted conventions to play the game in their vision.

Amongst the records that Stephen Curry smashed and the triple-doubles that Draymond Green recorded, lots of little, but important moments, helped Golden State become an era-defining outfit right in front of our very eyes.

Many would rightly point to their 24 straight wins to kick-off the season as the foundation of their impending record. Inside those victories, the Warriors slayed the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies twice; all teams bound for the playoffs.

It was the Milwaukee Bucks who finally dealt Steve Kerr's troops their first loss of the season on December 12, 2015. The 108-95 reverse came courtesy of the Greek Freak's, Giannis Antetokounmpo, first-ever career triple-double.

The Warriors response? They crushed the Phoenix Suns 128-103 before exacting revenge on the Bucks by a 10-point margin. Although they managed to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers two games later, their unbeaten run would end at five this time as J.J Barea's 23 points ensured a blowout victory for the Dallas Mavericks.

The media started to suggest the writing was on the wall. There was surely no way that a team could keep up their level of intensity and drive on the court. Could Stephen Curry really carry a team on his back for a whole season?

The funny thing is, the Warriors seem to turn up when it really matters. Only five of their nine losses have come against playoff sides, which means they hold clean sweeps over the Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, L.A. Clippers, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.

That's not bad going.

They appear to learn their lessons too, as no team has beaten them twice this term.

But what games really defined their season? For the most part, the Warriors have strolled to success by humbling teams with their perimeter shooting.

However, they have been pushed into overtime seven times this season, and, remarkably, they have emerged victorious on six occasions. Their most recent overtime endeavour is actually where they suffered that sole loss too, as the Timberwolves beat them 124-117 six nights ago.

When one thinks of the Warriors, visions of Stephen Curry going on a tear in late February into March spring to mind. However, Harrison Barnes was the go-to man when they overcame the Philadelphia 76ers at the end of January.

Barnes dropped in a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining to ensure the Warriors stayed on course to make history and averted an embarrassing loss to a franchise rock-bottom in the Eastern Conference with 10 wins all year.

Klay Thompson made a driving finger roll with 15.6 seconds left on the clock in an overtime of a battle with the Denver Nuggets too, as a Curry-less Golden State held on to their, at the time, unbeaten home record.

But, that's not to say Curry hasn't been every bit the runaway MVP he is touted as being. Just under two weeks ago, he drove the Warriors to an overtime win over the Jazz where he racked up 31 points, including six straight baskets in additional time, to grab the victory.

Back in December, Curry was the driving force behind an overtime win over the Celtics that would preserve their unbeaten status. Curry went nine from 27 from the field, but still managed to drop six bombs from deep to post 38 points when all was said and done.

Curry has dropped more than 40 points in 11 different games this season and 30 points or more 38 times.

The reigning champions have shown a penchant for delivering when it matters and when the pressure is on over the course of the season, and the stats support that notion.

Will they manage to do the same at the final hurdle this Thursday? You'd be a fool to bet against them now.

Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Stephen Curry
Klay Thompson

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