The Golden State Warriors are dismantling the NBA. They’re the defending champs, they’re 51-5 and they have an excellent chance of equalling or surpassing the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 wins.
But has the Warriors’ dominance made this season less intriguing or more intriguing?
“I think it’s more intriguing for two reasons,” NBA.com reporter Ian Thomsen said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “First of all, to see a defending champion come into the season after they had won their first championship (in 40 years), you would think they would relax and they’d say ‘Okay, we have nothing more to prove.’ No, they’ve been the hungriest team in the league this year. Everybody else should be hungry. Everybody else should be hungrier than they are trying to beat them. No, the Warriors have been the hungriest team. I just think that speaks a lot to their integrity, to what Steph Curry is all about, to the kind of identity that he gives that team and that team gives to him. They’re all in it together, they’re always trying, they’re never giving up – they just really have something going that’s special. It’s almost a collegial type of spirit for them.”
And the second reason Thomsen finds this season even more intriguing? It’s simple: The regular season means nothing come playoff time.
“I remember very well last year in the playoffs that Golden State was a dominant team in the regular season last year and the game slowed down,” Thomsen said. “It’s a seven-game series. A team game-plans specifically for Golden State. They’re a hard team to game-plan for during the regular season. They’e so different from anybody else. Are you going to change everything you do just for one game against the Warriors? You aren’t. But in the playoffs, you are. You’re going to adjust. You’re going go after the match-ups you think are right and you’re going try to beat them up and slow the game down.”
Golden State, it is worth noting, trailed 2-1 against Memphis and Cleveland. Granted, the Warriors came back to win both series in six games, but they’re not invincible.
“As great as they’ve been this year – and I give them all the credit in the world – I don’t think anybody should be crowning them the champion because the playoffs are so different,” Thomsen said. “Things can happen. One guy can turn an ankle at the wrong time. They are not the de facto champions for this season by any means.”