The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors left no doubt. They are the greatest regular-season team in NBA history.
Stephen Curry scored 46 points in just three quarters and the Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104 on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena to set a new NBA record with their 73rd victory of the season. They broke the previous record of 72 set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
“It’s a great way to finish off what was an amazing regular season,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I just told our guys I never in a million years would have guessed that record would ever be broken. I thought it was like DiMaggio’s hit streak. I was wrong but I will say the same thing now that I said 20 years ago. ‘I don’t think this will ever be broken.’ Somebody’s got to go 74-8. I don’t see it and I hope our fans aren’t expecting that next year.”
“It takes so much focus,” Draymond Green said. “Every night someone is gunning for you. So much dedication and commitment to each other. It’s not about playing for yourself or playing for stats. It’s about playing for each other and that’s how something like this gets accomplished. It’s incredible.”
The historic outcome was decided early on as expected. Behind Curry’s six 3-pointers, including three in a span of 57 seconds, the Warriors led 37-23 after the first quarter. The lead grew to 22 at halftime. The only suspense left was if Curry would become the first player to make 400 3-pointers in a season.
Curry came into the game needing eight 3-pointers for 400. With six out of the way in a spectacular opening quarter, it became a matter of when, not if, the likely MVP would reach the extraordinary mark. The suspense ended when Curry splashed a 24-footer from the right wing 43 seconds into the second half.
Despite knowing how close he was to 400, Curry came into the game with the mindset of not launching 3-pointers that could disrupt the flow of the offense. The goal was to win the game and set the wins record. But after knocking down the first couple 3-pointers in the first four minutes. Curry went for it and made 10 3-pointers in the game.
“I was searching for it at that point just because I had made a couple,” Curry said. “So kind of let it come to me and then have some fun with it.”
“I thought he actually did a really good job early on of not forcing a 3,” Kerr said. “I think he didn’t take one for the first three or four minutes and he could have jacked a couple of them. But he really kind of settled into the game. As soon as he got one up and hit it, then it was like the floodgates opened up. He just had one of the most amazing seasons that anybody has ever had in the history of the league.”
Curry led the league in scoring (30.1 ppg) and steals (2.1) for the first time in his career. He finished with 402 3-pointers, 403 2-pointers and 363 free throws. Curry also became just the third player to join the 50-45-90 club by shooting 50.4 percent from the field, 45.4 percent from 3-point range and 90.8 percent from the free-throw line. The other members of the elusive club are Kerr and Steve Nash.
“Those are numbers that I’ve worked for and try to elevate my game to that level,” Curry said. “That 50-40-90 club is something, as a shooter, I find pretty special. I played 79 games and be able to shoot volume and accuracy and all that kind of stuff. That’s why I shoot all the reps that I do and go out and play the way I do. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment.”
Curry also gave an insight to why he has become the best player in the world.
“I want to be great,” Curry said. “I want to be the best I can be. I think I’ve found a way in these last couple years to just keep getting better. Keep doing little things that you might not see in the summer and off days that really help my confidence when I’m out there on the floor that I feel like I really can do anything. So that’s what I’m about.”
Now that 73, 400, 50-45-90, are all out of the way, the new number is 16. 16 more wins and the Warriors achieve their ultimate goal this season of becoming back-to-back champions.
The Houston Rockets won the rights to face the Warriors in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs with a 116-81 romp over the Sacramento Kings earlier in the evening. It will be a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finals. Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Oracle Arena. The game will be televised on ABC.