Jordan’s (and Bill Wennington’s) 1995-1996 Bulls 72-10 record was unanimously deemed by 5 writers (through ESPN) as “unbreakable”.
Over the 40 game mark, Golden State’s on pace for a win percentage of over 90%, a seemingly inconceivable feat.
With a record like that, you’d figure their lead would be at least 7 or 8 games. But lo and behold, the Warriors are joined on their quest, with the Spurs sitting only 2 games back, and on pace to lose under 12 games this season.
Don’t mix it though. This Spurs journey is more Rocky Balboa than Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter (C+ attempt at a pop culture analogy). San Antonio’s surge shouldn’t be a surprise, just like Rocky Balboa’s shouldn’t have been. Spurs have the best Power Forward of all time on their roster, who at 39 will still be consistent when it counts, arguably the best coach in NBA history, and the future best player in the world. They’re meant to be here. They’re meant to be this good. Just as Rocky was 0% body fat, the Spurs are 0% fluke. (D- analogy explanation).
Statistically, the Spurs have the best defense in the Association, and outplay the Warriors in terms of own and opponent field goal percentage, free throw percentage, and turnovers, while giving up the least points in the NBA, by a considerable margin.
So can they keep pace with or even pass the Warriors?
As much as we want them to, Coach Pop knows his aging roster will need nights off. They wouldn’t dare risk any postseason glory for regular season records. A team like Golden State can take those chances in the regular season, knowing that they’re young enough and deep enough to still be comfortable in the postseason.
Add on to that the NBA hasn’t been easy on them in a second half schedule. The Spurs meet Golden State 4 times in the second half. As well, an 8 game road-stand (with the All Star break in the middle) will test them, and push the older guys to the bench.
BUT JUST MAYBE, they can do it. San Antonio hasn’t lost any games in which Tim Duncan sat out. Maybe Tony Parker find his second wind. Maybe they get a roll here and there.
And maybe, this has been Gregg Poppovich’s plan all along. And by all along, I mean over the past 5 years. Would you put it past him to conserve his resources, until his core hits their last season together, and then throwing all his chips into one basket for a historic run? Get used to cheering for fundamentals, because you need to keep your eyes on San Antonio as much as you do on Golden State.