Warriors striving for 16-0 playoffs, but imaginations must be held in check

Warriors striving for 16-0 playoffs, but imaginations must be held in check

OAKLAND -- Even though they deny it at every turn, pointing to other factors, most of them justifiable, the fact remains the Warriors are 11 months removed from learning a harsh lesson about chasing history.

They stalked the NBA single-season wins record last season and got it, becoming the first team to post 73 victories.

Only to enter the record book two months later as the only team to take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals and give it all back.

And here they are now, once again, staring at yet another opportunity to etch their names in the record book, this time for most consecutive wins in a single postseason.

This is a piece of history the Warriors have to chase. It’s the playoffs, they’re facing Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals in San Antonio and there is absolutely nothing to be gained from losing a game in May or June. Winning every game of a given postseason is the most impressive thing a team can do.

The Warriors have to go for it, because perfection in a given postseason is the most impressive feat any team can accomplish.

The Cavaliers, by the way, are racing toward the same goal -- and only one team can achieve it.

While Cleveland on Wednesday won its ninth consecutive game to open the playoffs, a 117-104 lashing of the Celtics, the Warriors are a game ahead in the vanity standings. They are 10-0 after sweeping Portland in the first round, sweeping Utah in the conference semifinals and going up 2-0 on San Antonio.

Only two teams have opened the playoffs with 11 consecutive wins, and both of them were Lakers. The Showtime Lakers did it in 1989 and the Shaq-Kobe Lakers did it in 2001.

That’s it. The Jordan Bulls never did it, the Bird Celtics never did it and the Bad Boy Pistons never did it. For crying out loud, even the Bill Russell Celtics never won more than six consecutive postseason games.

Neither have any of the many iterations of the Gregg Popovich Spurs, whose 1998-99 team does have the distinction of owning the longest win streak in a single postseason: 12.

That record, however, came with losses along the way, one in the first round and another while winning the NBA Finals in five games over the Knicks.

No team has opened the playoffs with a 12-game win streak. And no team has run the table, never a 4-4-4, much less a 4-4-4-4. The Warriors are six games away, the Cavaliers seven. And, yes, it’s conceivable that both could enter The Finals with 12-0 records for this postseason.

The Warriors have been the more dominating team, though, winning by an average of 17.0 points per game, the highest playoff-points differential in NBA history. They’ve become the super team many anticipated when future Hall of Fame forward Kevin Durant, in his prime, joined the 73-win Warriors.

Not long after the Game 2 victory Tuesday night, Stephen Curry was asked about the historical element and the record-book possibilities and whether this is something the Warriors might have floating about their heads.

“Not at all,” he said. “It's pretty easy not to think about that, if you know what I mean.”

Of course we know what he means. After last season and the journey that led to 73 wins, followed by the epic collapse, the Warriors are determined to stay on task and in the moment.

Even at 10-0, imaginations must be held in check.

History, however, beckons and the Warriors don’t have to talk about it in public, as they did their pursuit of 73. As much as they want it -- and there is no question they do -- this is a quiet quest, which is as it should be.

After all, what better than way to salve, once and for all, the lingering sting of last June than to come back with a perfect postseason?

Kevin Love closes Twitter response with 'now go kick some rocks'


Kevin Love closes Twitter response with 'now go kick some rocks'

On Friday afternoon, news broke that Kyrie Irving reportedly requested a trade from the Cavs.

Shortly thereafter, a Twitter account with over 296,000 followers tweeted the following:

[RATTO: Kyrie Irving needs to be traded to one place, and one place only]

A little over an hour later, Kevin Love responded:

On Tuesday night, Irving told Sports Illustrated the Cavs are "in a very peculiar place."

In the weeks between Cleveland's Game 5 loss to the Warriors and the start of free agency, Love was reportedly on the trading block.

The Cavs and GM David Griffin "mutually" parted ways three days before the NBA Draft.

Cleveland is finally finalizing a deal with assistant GM Coby Altman to become the permanent general manager, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

LeBron James can opt out and become a free agent next summer, and there is already speculation about where he may go.

Man. The last six weeks in Cleveland have been wild...

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Kyrie Irving needs to be traded to one place, and one place only

Kyrie Irving needs to be traded to one place, and one place only

The only way this Kyrie Irving trade request story makes any sense at all is if he demands to go to Houston. And gets there.

Yes, Houston. Home of James Harden. Potential future home of Carmelo Anthony. The Place Where Passing Goes To Die. The Antidote To Everything Warriors.

I mean, Irving reading the tea leaves and knowing the Cavs are about to enter a very dark period in their history is not the news here. Dan Gilbert no longer caring about running a basketball operation without empty offices has been the catalyst for LeBron James looking forward to life on the West Coast. The Cavs are a sinkhole collapsing so fast that the assumptions of them cakewalking to the 2018 NBA Finals are heading directly for the earth’s core.

But it’s where Irving goes that is fascinating, and Houston is the perfect place because (and we are presuming Daryl Morey can pry Anthony from the joke shop that is the New York Knickerbockers):

1) It would turn Golden State’s version of cap hell into a slight checking overdraft by comparison
2) It would make the Rockets’ offense a high-powered mess of glorious proportions
3) It would subject the Warriors to a direct stylistic showdown – namely, whether rapid, smart-minded ball movement is just a fad to be replacing by 21st century offensive stagflation.

Oh, Harden can pass, and Irving can pass, and Anthony . . . well, okay, Harden and Irving can pass. But they all function almost entirely with the ball, which means that at any given moment 66 percent of the Rockets’ most important players will be unhappy.

Thus, this is what we need, and what we need now. Trading Kyrie Irving is just satisfying his whim. Trading him to a place where we can put competing basketball styles to the test – now that would make the Western Conference playoffs worth caring about again.

And the Eastern Conference? Well, we’ve always wanted a relegation system in American sports, and now we’ve got it. Just fly toward the sun and hold your nose.