Image courtesy of Erik Drost's Flickr page - Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrost88/18712418510/in/photolist-uvy36m-uKQ6xG-tRgUTP-uvtpVm-uKQmv7-uvGFwB-uMFFeG-uNpE1e-tBehBy-uN3P3D-tR2Qho-HUSfr-4Taf5q-uvASzv-7vAzf2-qHUK2k-r52g6V-6K6Fki-bgddQ6-4G4nGd-r4UoZy-7NjrkD-9nssXS-rmt3kn-JgQiv-uoEiQf-djFciv-rmokYq-r4Ujq3-7hGokn-4iSMB3-bgdChx-47g67u-qKt9Fn-qKuV8z-qKt9yP-qKt9Ea-3pYanc-4C12US-uvyAju-uvyCCs-buWvMB-3q3GXA-eedDRY-7NopXJ-6r3FD-6r3uV-3pYaeB-dZTukn-dZTkBK
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It was not exactly like the 2007 New England Patriots losing their first and only contest when it mattered most, in the final minute of the final quarter of what had been, to that point, a perfect season. After all, as good as the Golden State Warriors have been all season, they had lost some games entering last night's contest at home against the Boston Celtics. They were 68-7, after all, and not 75-0.
Still, one area where the Warriors had indeed remained perfect was when they enjoyed home court advantage. To this point in the season, they sported a very impressive 36-0 record at home, and a record 54-game winning streak during regular season, stretching back to last season. Add to that their incredible rate of winning overall this season simply added to the lore, to the sense that this Golden State team was something truly special, and had a date with destiny. Many seemed to believe that their going undefeated at home was a foregone conclusion.
In fact, it was not, and that was what made last night's loss not all that shocking, after all. I personally remember the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls also lose two home games late in that season, after a similar undefeated start at home.
Ironically and rather unbelievably, there is still one team in the NBA that sports an undefeated home record this season: the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio is actually quite close to completing the perfect regular season at home, with a remarkable 38-0 home record presently. They have three home games remaining on their schedule, and that includes a game against the Golden State Warriors! A few weeks ago, the Spurs crushed the Warriors in San Antonio, and it is interesting to note that the Warriors have not won a regular season game in San Antonio since roughly the days of the Polk administration. You would have figured that would have ended with this great Warriors team, but not yet.
The Spurs will play Toronto at home later today, and then will host the Warriors next weekend, and finish off their regular season at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, April 12th. It is a rather unbelievable thought that the Warriors are not the only team aiming for that elusive 70-win mark during a regular season, something that has only been achieved once before, by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. It may be doubtful that the Spurs can do it - especially since one of those away games is at Golden State - although the fact that they still have a chance to do it this late in the season is a testament to how incredible their own regular season success has been, even thought it has been overshadowed by the Warriors record pace.
Still, again, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls are the standard bearers for greatness, and they fell short of completing a perfect regular season at home in the final games of that remarkable regular season. Now, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who remain on record pace themselves, have joined them with a disappointing loss that ended their chances of the perfect regular season record at home. Even the 1985-86 Boston Celtics were 40-1, as opposed to 41-0, at home. If the Spurs manage to complete a 41-0 regular season at home, it would deserve to rank among the great achievements in NBA history, and would rightly place these San Antonio Spurs right alongside the Golden State Warriors as one of the greatest regular season teams of all time, even if they do not reach the 70-win threshold.
That would likely set up an unbelievable showdown between these two great teams, the Warriors and the Spurs, in the Western Conference playoffs - most likely in the Conference Finals. How entertaining, how enticing, and how unbelievable the draw of that series would be!
Golden State surely would be the favorites, although last night's loss surely rubbed some of the glitter from their image. As good as the Warriors have been, they are not perfect, even at home. Last night proved that they can indeed be beaten, and that the 73-win mark, which again, most people seemed to feel was a foregone conclusion, is anything but. Golden State and San Antonio have an excellent chance of meeting the playoffs, but they will definitely meet two more times before this season is over. And these will be intense games with a playoff atmosphere, for sure.
I, for one, am looking forward to them! They will be meetings of two of the best regular season teams, at least, in the history of the game.