Even though the Golden State Warriors picked up their 45th straight regular season victory at home on Monday night, the feeling around the seemingly invincible powerhouse team has become slightly more negative over the past few days. That’s because the Warriors were thumped (on the road) by the Lakers over the weekend, leading to one of the biggest upsets in NBA regular season history (the Lakers entered the game with just 12 wins compared to the Warriors’ 55).
The loss to LA was just the sixth of the season for Golden State, who now own a record of 56-6 following their win on Monday — the best such mark in league history. They are still well on pace to at least tie — if not break — that record for wins in a single season that we’ve all been talking about, but the room for error over their final 20 games is smaller than you’d think. Key games against playoff caliber teams will challenge the Warriors throughout the remainder of the campaign and could end their attempt at the record.
If the Warriors want to break the wins mark, they can only lose three more games at most. If they want to tie it, they can only afford four losses. With that being said, we took a look at their schedule to determine five games that could halt their pursuit of history. Here they are, ranked chronologically.
5. March 19 and/or April 10 at San Antonio Spurs
In the first meeting of the top teams in the NBA, the Warriors ran the Spurs out of the building with a blowout win in Oakland. With three more matchups between the two still on the horizon, you know that San Antonio will be hungry to prove that they can keep up with Golden State. The Spurs get two of the final three meetings at home and either one (or both) of those could easily serve the Warriors a loss. Like the Warriors, the Spurs have been unbeatable at home this season, so thinking that Golden State can walk into their house and steal a win is foolish — San Antonio is 30-0 at home this season; Golden State is 27-0.
4. March 21 at Minnesota Timberwolves
When you look at the majority of the Warriors’ six losses this season, most of them have courtesy of teams not currently in the playoff picture. The Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and the Lakers have all gotten past them, indicating that the Warriors can play down to their competition at times. That’s why this game in a couple of weeks on the road against a young Minnesota Timberwolves team is dangerous for Golden State. Minnesota hasn’t been successful in the win column this season, but it’s clear that their future is bright with young studs like Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns on hand. For one night, the T’Wolves can give Stephen Curry and company plenty of trouble.
3. March 23 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
As we previously noted, Golden State has yet to lose a game at home this season. They are nearly impossible to handle at the Oracle Arena and it would be shocking if any team knocked them off on their home court. However, a couple of games serve as intriguing challenges for the Warriors at home before the end of the regular season. The Los Angeles Clippers are a team more than capable of pulling off a road upset when the two sides meet up later this month. Earlier this season, Chris Paul and company gave the Warriors all they could handle in Oakland and as a team that’s looking to prove that they’re ready to compete for a title this season, LA will be pumped up for this one and could do the unthinkable.
2. March 30 at Utah Jazz
The Utah Jazz are another team that is currently not in the playoff picture, yet has a roster capable of giving the Warriors fits. The Jazz know how to spread the wealth across their array of talent, as an impressive seven players score in double figures for them. Whether it’s Gordon Hayward, Trey Burke, Alec Burks, or somebody else, the Jazz have plenty of weapons to at least put up a fight with the Warriors on their home court. Utah will travel to Oakland to play Golden State on Wednesday, but this game at the end of the month will serve as a prime opportunity for a big win that could fuel Utah’s playoff push (where they would likely be matched up with….the Warriors).
1. April 9 at Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies were handed the worst loss in the history of their franchise earlier this season by Golden State, as the were held to 69 points and lost by an even 50. Overall, they are 0-2 against the Warriors this season and have looked terrible in each instance. Despite those alarming facts, something about the Grizzlies gives us an indication that they can knock of the Warriors in Memphis near the end of the season. Mike Conley and crew gave Golden State a battle in the playoffs last season and have the tough-minded mentality that can lead them to a big win (even without Marc Gasol). Seeing as this is the third-to-last game of the season for the Warriors, the wins record could be well within reach. There’s no questioning how motivated Memphis would be to halt their historical chase.
All data courtesy of ESPN.go.com. Information is current as of 03/08/16.