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?

Myers: 'It's painful' that Kerr not able to treasure being in NBA Finals

Myers: 'It's painful' that Kerr not able to treasure being in NBA Finals

OAKLAND -- Warriors coach Steve Kerr is no closer to resuming full-time duties than he was a week ago, or even a month ago.

Out since April 23, when he announced he was taking a leave of absence to address chronic pain in the wake of multiple back surgeries nearly two years ago, Kerr has been a constant presence the past two weeks but not on the bench during games.

“He’s doing everything but coaching, but at this point, he’s not able to coach,” general manager Bob Myers said Thursday after practice. “I wish could say that he was. I’m sure he wishes he could as well. But that’s where we are.

“If something changes and he feels better, I’ll sit here or, better -- he would sit here -- and tell you. But right now, I can’t say that he’s going to be coaching.”

Though Kerr did not address media Thursday, he indicated earlier this week that he would be comfortable going into the NBA Finals, which begin June 1, with acting head coach Mike Brown at the helm.

“We’re 12-0,” Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com. “I feel great about where the team is. I know we can play better. I think the challenge we’re about to face, one way or the other, is going to take us to another level.”

The Warriors under Kerr finished the regular season with a league-best 67-15 mark, earning the No. 1 overall seed for the playoffs. Kerr coached Games 1 and 2 of the first round against Portland before surrendering head coaching duties to Brown.

The Warriors are 10-0 since Brown took over, 27-1 over their last 28 games since March 11.

Still, they would like Kerr to regain health and join them in their quest for a second championship in three years.

“It’s hard for me; I’m kind of in this basketball mode,” Myers said. “But he’s a person and he’s not feeling well. And that’s what makes it hard. More than how it reflects on our team is how he’s feeling that makes it very difficult to have to sit here and say that the man that’s hugely responsible for us being in The Finals for three years in a row, in a moment that he should be treasuring, can’t do it.

“It’s painful. And I know it’s painful for him, more than anybody. And I wish and he wishes and I’m sure you guys do, too, that there was something that could get him there. But right now, we’re not at that point.”

LeBron: Chasing Jordan 'my personal goal to keep me motivated'

LeBron: Chasing Jordan 'my personal goal to keep me motivated'

BOSTON -- LeBron James says his chase of Michael Jordan's accomplishments is simply personal motivation. It's not about wanting to establish himself as the NBA's greatest player.

James spoke Thursday during the morning shootaround before the Cavaliers play the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

If the Cavaliers advance, James would be making a seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.

He said his goal is not about passing Jordan in titles, points or MVP awards. James is 28 points shy of overtaking Jordan as the postseason's leading scorer. With 40 more points, James could also become the first player in NBA history to score 6,000 points in the playoffs.

But the Cavaliers superstar says his pursuit is about leaving a legacy to motivate the next generation of players.

"It's just my personal goal to keep me motivated, that's all," James said. "You guys are gonna have the conversations about who's the greatest of all time and things of that nature, it doesn't matter to me."

He also said he believes that the greatness conversation is discussed more often in the NBA than in other sports.

"It's never talked about (in the) NFL, who's the greatest quarterback. It's just like (Dan) Marino, (John) Elway, (Peyton) Manning, (Tom) Brady - all great quarterbacks. It should be the same for us," James said. "We go out and just try to be as great as we can be every night.

"The comparison of always trying to compare people, either living or still playing or not playing - I think it's great for barbershops."