Warriors Top Spurs 112-101 For Win No. 70, Clinch Top Seed In West
The Golden State Warriors have officially entered rarified air thanks to their 112-101 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
The win not only clinched the top seed in the Western Conference, but it put the Warriors at 70 wins for the season, only Michael Jordan‘s 1995-96 Bulls have accomplished such a feat. Now Steph Curry‘s Warriors can reach 73 wins if they win their remaining three games, which would be one more than the Bulls’ 72.
“Two teams in the history of this game have reached where we are right now,” Curry said. “It’s a proud moment and something that should be recognized.”
Golden State held the Spurs to just 40 first half points, including only 15 points in the first quarter to go into the half with a 52-40 lead, despite Curry having only seven points at the break. The reigning MVP returned to form in the third quarter, piling up 15 points and 4 assists in the third frame.
As a team the Warriors erupted for 35 points in the third, increasing their lead to 18 entering the fourth. It was the second impressive win against a Spurs team that has been a little overshadowed by the Warriors historic season. The Warriors pounded the Spurs 120-90 in their first meeting of the season way back on January 25.
Curry finished with 27 points on a strong 11-17 shooting (3-7 three pointers) and also had 9 assists. Harrison Barnes provided a steady hand as the team looked for a scoring option in the first half finishing with 21 points (14 first half). Versatile forward Draymond Green added 18 points as Klay Thompson struggled with his shot, going just 5-13 in the game for 14 points.
Kawhi Leonard led the way for San Antonio, with 23 points on 8-12 shooting. Leonard, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was the only Spur player to score more than 11 points. The Spurs’ Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli played 66 combined minutes, scoring only 20 points.
There was a scary moment for Spurs fans towards the end of the first quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge had his shot blocked with 3:17 left in the opening quarter but saw his finger get dislocated when it hit the backboard. Aldridge, who figures to be a key part of San Antonio’s future, returned with a little under 9 minutes left in the second quarter. He finished with just 11 points on 5-16 shooting and only grabbed three rebounds.
“You can’t make mistakes against these guys,” Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich said. “Best team on the planet. If you lose your concentration defensively or you shoot ill-advised shots or don’t move the ball and give it back to them quickly, you’re in big trouble.”
For the Spurs, (65-13) they are locked into the second seed in the West now. They can still play for an undefeated home record, they are currently 39-0 at home with two games left in San Antonio. Their two remaining opponents at home are Golden State on Sunday, April 10, and Oklahoma City, the third seed in the West on Tuesday, April 12. The Spurs have one game before they head back to Texas, they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets tonight, April 8 at 9PM EST.
The win gives the Warriors home court advantage throughout the playoffs since they clinched the top seed with their victory. The Warriors remaining three games are at Memphis and San Antonio on April 9 and 10 and then they host Memphis on April 12.
With the team so close to 73 wins, coach Steve Kerr doesn’t know whether to rest his players before the playoffs or make a run at history. The team has finally met it’s goal of earning the top seed in the West.
“It took 70 wins to wrap up the 1-seed, which tells you all you need to know about that team in the other locker room,” Kerr said. referencing the elite talent teams like the Spurs present, not to mention the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, another team I’m willing to bet no one is signing up for to meet in a best-of-7 series.
Kerr has said he’s inclined to rest his players, but they feel differently. ” Most of the guys in the locker room are saying, ‘We’re right here. We’ve put all this effort into it. Let’s go for it.” Green said.
The Warriors must win all three of their remaining games if they want to set the NBA record for wins in a season.