After losing two of their last three games – at home, no less – the Golden State Warriors suddenly look mortal. They lost to Boston, 109-106 last Friday, and they lost to Minnesota, 124-117, in overtime on Tuesday, as Shabazz Muhammad, who averages right around 10 points per game, went off for 35.
With four games to go – two against San Antonio, two against Memphis – the Warriors (69-9) must win out to break the NBA’s all-time record for wins in a season. If they go 3-1, they’ll tie the record. If they go 2-2, it’ll be close but no cigar.
So, ultimately, who will decide whether the Warriors keep the foot on the gas or tap the brakes in their chase for history?
“Steph Curry,” Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “If Steph Curry is making shots and the Warriors are winning, he’s going to rest the fourth quarter and all problems are solved. If they’re playing poorly and things are not going right, Steph Curry is going to say, ‘I need to play, so put me out there so I can get my rhythm back.’ I think he sits one game at Memphis, but they might have to fight him for that.”
The Warriors, who started the year 55-5, are 14-4 in their last 18 games. They’ve lost to the Lakers (16-62) and Timberwolves (26-52), needed overtime to get past Utah (39-39) and played close home games with Orlando (33-45) and Dallas (40-38), among others.
“I really believe they’re bored,” Thompson said. “I really believe that. When they beat San Antonio by 30 pints at home, I remember thinking, ‘If there’s nobody who can challenge this team – because San Antonio was supposed to be the challenge – what do they do for the next two months?’ Even if San Antonio is a challenge, Cleveland wasn’t. The Clippers aren’t. So at some point, it’s like all these games become monotonous. It’s like, ‘Okay, we know we’re better than everybody we play, and I think (we’re seeing) that finally catch up to them.’”
The Warriors led Minnesota 86-78 through three quarters on Tuesday but were outscored by eight in the fourth and by seven in overtime.
“They felt like, ‘Okay, at any point we really feel like it, we’re going to beat Minnesota,’” Thompson said. “But once they really felt like winning, it was too late. Minnesota was grooving. So it’s like, ‘Okay, we just figured out right there that even though we’re better, we still have to bring it.’”