The Warriors made history. With a 125-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors have set a new record for most wins in a single NBA season with 73. They tied the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' previous record with a road win against their top challengers in San Antonio, then sealed the deal at home against Memphis on the final day of the season.
This new record is the perfect coronation for the most dominant regular-season run ever. The Warriors already shattered the record for best start in NBA history by winning their first 24 games and have posted one of the highest margins of victory the league has seen. It's not surprising that they have reached 73 wins, something that not long ago seemed close to impossible to do.
After being coy about it for most of the year, the Warriors admitted late in the season that they were gunning for the record.
"I'm not going to shy away from saying we want the record," forward Draymond Green said on March 24. "We want the record, and we're going after it."
League MVP Stephen Curry has led the way for Golden State. He's had unprecedented shooting numbers, both in volume and efficiency, averaging 30 points on 50-40-90 shooting for the season. A second Most Valuable Player award for Curry is a foregone conclusion at this point, as he has emerged as the best player in the league.
The Warriors also have two other All-Stars on their roster: Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Thompson only trails Curry in made three-pointers, while Green, last year's Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, has had the second most triple-doubles this season behind only Russell Westbrook.
The former holders of the record, the 1995-96 Bulls, went on to win the championship. The Warriors are the prohibitive favorite this season, but know that regular-season wins have to be validated in the playoffs.
"We're in the moment enjoying the ride," Curry said after winning No. 72. "But the goal is to win the championship."
There will be time to worry about the challenges of the postseason. For now, the Warriors will surely celebrate this outstanding accomplishment that won't easily be repeated or surpassed. It's been a thrilling ride to this point, so let's take a look back at how they got here.
The 1st title
Following two straight playoff appearances under Mark Jackson, the Warriors turned to Steve Kerr and everything clicked. Curry transformed into an MVP, Green broke out into a two-way monster and Golden State put forth one of the best seasons of all time by winning 67 games.
There were a few postseason hiccups on the way to the franchise's first title in 40 years, but the Warriors ultimately got the job done in six games over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The championship helped validate an offensive style of play that many criticized for relying on too many jump shots, although the critics didn't go away even after this championship.
Lucky to win it all?
This Warriors bunch is excellent at taking slights and using them as motivation, and Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers provided plenty of fodder before this season by suggesting Golden State was lucky in last year's postseason because it avoided the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs.
Thompson, among others, fired back, sparking a preseason war of words that only got the Warriors more ready to prove they were no fluke. They would continue to find motivation in perceived affronts throughout the year, which helped keep them focused throughout the season.
The record-breaking start
The Warriors proved their merit in the best way possible, roaring out to a historic 24-0 start, a feat that's never been done before. Curry defended his MVP award by scoring 40 points against the New Orleans Pelicans on opening night and then pouring in 53 points against the Pelicans several nights later. He scored 40 points or more seven times during the sizzling start:
The streak featured two come-from-behind victories over the Clippers, which had to be especially sweet given the rivalry and the preseason trash talk. There were several other close calls, including an overtime victory over the lowly Brooklyn Nets and a double-overtime thriller in Boston. The run finally came to an end in Milwaukee on Dec. 12, a night after that wild one against the Celtics.
Other signature moments
In a span of one week, the Warriors flexed on two fellow title contenders. First, the defending champs went to Cleveland and embarrassed the home team by 34 points. The next Monday, Golden State "welcomed" San Antonio to Oracle Arena by beating the Spurs by 30.
But the signature moment of this season happened in Oklahoma City on Feb. 27. The Warriors trailed by 11 points with under five minutes to play, but they stormed back and sent the game to overtime on two Andre Iguodala free throws in the final second. Curry then won the game in the extra frame with this absurd shot:
The game-winner was Curry's 12th three of the game, matching Kobe Bryant and Donyell Marshall for most three-pointers in a game. The reigning MVP also broke his own record for most three-pointers in a season in this victory, which was one of three wins over the Thunder this year.
The final stretch
After beating the Trail Blazers to get win No. 69, the Warriors faced the last five games of the season knowing that they could afford to lose one and still get the record. Considering they were slated to play the Spurs in San Antonio, that was huge. Then, surprisingly, they lost to the Timberwolves at home, which left them with no margin of error. They were going to have to beat the Spurs and Grizzlies twice in their last four games.
The Warriors took care of business at home against San Antonio and squeaked out a one-point win at Memphis, setting up a historic showdown in Texas. In the biggest game of the season, they beat the Spurs in the AT&T Center to ruin San Antonio's perfect home mark, tie the Bulls' record and give themselves the chance to break the record. Golden State did just that with its win against Memphis at Oracle Arena, punctuated by Curry's flurry of threes to crack a whopping 402 on the season.
The Warriors have officially made history.
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