With just 19 games left in the 2015-2016 season, the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are on pace to break a record many thought was unbreakable, the 72 regular season victories of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
If the Warriors are to hit jackpot city and break the record, they will need to win 16 of their final 19 games. Considering that they have gone 17-2 in their most recent 19 games, it is certainly within reach.
After winning their first 24 games to start the season, the Warriors have endured an occasional lapse, but for the most part have been the most dominant team in the league. Though they were surprisingly stuffed last Sunday by the Los Angeles Lakers 112-95, they have rebounded with consecutive wins to get back on track.
Having raised his game to MVP level a year ago, Steph Curry has been even better this year raising his scoring average from 23.8 points per game to a league best 30.4 per contest. Considering that he has sat out the fourth quarter of many blowout wins, his average might have been even higher.
Providing a great second offensive punch is fifth-year forward Klay Thompson. Like Curry (son of Dell Curry), Thompson is the son of a former NBA star as his father, Mychal Thompson won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.
During the recent NBA All-Star Weekend, Thompson showed he could hold his own as he defeated Curry in the three-point shooting contest. He is averaging 21.8 points per game and would probably be considered the top three-point shooter in the league were it not for Curry.
Much was made of a recent outburst by power forward Draymond Green. However, it is Green’s feisty competitiveness that gives the Warriors a dynamic edge. Green is averaging 13.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game while anchoring the Golden State defense.
The remainder of the lineup is full of players who have understood and embraced their roles on a championship caliber team. The numbers for former number one overall pick Andrew Bogut have declined slightly this season, but he still plays a key role as a rebounder and inside presence.
Former North Carolina Tar Heels star Harrison Barnes is not the star many thought he would be while in college, but he is fourth on the team averaging 11.6 points per game.
Perhaps the Warriors don’t have quite the star studded lineup of a Chicago Bulls team that included Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, but they do have one connection to that famous team. Head coach Steve Kerr was a sharp-shooting backup guard for those Bulls and in his second season with the Warriors could have the amazing distinction of being part of two 70 win teams.
Some have wondered if Kerr would rest his stars down the stretch to prepare for the playoffs. That may indeed happen at times, but Curry and the other Golden State players have indicated that they want to do everything they can to achieve the record.
Given that the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs have distanced themselves from the rest of the Western Conference and LeBron James is waiting in the East, the next month could just be a precursor to an especially exciting NBA Playoff season.