DAR Sports: The 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors Season

By @TrueGodImmortal

The 2015-2016 NBA Regular Season is over and the playoffs are officially underway. Needless to say, there have been some solid showings from multiple teams this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors had the best records in the East and the San Antonio Spurs had their best regular season record, going 67-15 this year and finishing 2nd in the West. However, there was no team more impressive than the hungry and efficient Golden State Warriors. Led by the dynamic trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors would end up breaking the regular season record for most wins in a season, besting the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72-10. The Warriors headed into the playoffs with a 73-9 record, cementing themselves as the best regular season team in NBA history and if they manage to win the title this year, they might go down as the greatest team in history, period. Today, I wanted to take a look back at the Warriors and their season, as they not only made history as a unit, but individually, they had players putting up record numbers as well.

First things first, I must start with the stellar season Stephen Curry had. The reigning MVP came into this season with a reckless abandon, shooting like it was second nature to him. Curry solidified himself as the greatest shooter in NBA history this year, finishing the season with 402 three pointers. 402. Now, let's take a moment and reflect on that. The top 4 seasons for three point shooting coming into this season were in tact. Steph Curry had set records during the 2014-2015 season, finishing with 286 three pointers, which was looked at as an amazing feat then. Curry broke the single season three point record then and finished as the MVP with almost 24.0 PPG and some people felt he didn't deserve the title. Steph and the team heard all the whispers from the peanut gallery about their title win being a fluke and that Steph would never have a season like that again. Steph came in focused for the season and proved the world wrong. He is without a doubt the MVP this year, as he finished with 6.7 APG this season, and a career high 30.1 PPG to win his first NBA scoring title.

So, in just this one season, Steph, the reigning MVP, stepped his game up to win a scoring title, finish with over 30.0 PPG on the year, and end up in that cherished 50/40/90 club, shooting over 50 % overall from the field, 45 % from three point range, and 90 % from the free throw line. We witnessed one of the greatest individual seasons ever while witnessing the greatest team regular season ever. The fact that we thought Steph putting up 286 three pointers on the year in 2014-2015 was an impossible feat, only for him to shoot 116 more the following season is absolutely amazing. Steph had some off nights throughout the season too, so imagine if Steph was on fire during those off games. He could have finished with 450-500 three pointers. The fact that 500 three pointers is realistic in a single season now is a testament to how great Steph has been and is in general. When he hit 300 three pointers with 20 plus games left in the season, we were amazed. 300 three pointers seemed like a thing that would never happen, and he made it look so easy.

As the season came to an end, the adulation and love would reign down for Steph and rightfully so. 400 three pointers, 30.1 PPG, and leading the league in steals and he ended up missing a large amount of the fourth quarters in the Warriors games. Steph was playing less than 35 minutes regularly during the season, making his numbers and amount of three pointers astronomical in comparison to the other leading scorers in the league. Imagine if Steph played more minutes this season, he might really have finished at 32.0 PPG or higher. Steph also tied the record for most three pointers made in a game, putting up 12 three pointers against the Thunder back on February 27th. He would also set a record for the most consecutive games with a three pointer made, as he currently sits at 152 regular season games (174 if you count playoffs). It is truly amazing to have witnessed, but let's not leave it only at Steph, because while he was the MVP of the season and the leader of the Warriors, he wasn't the only one keeping the team going.

Klay Thompson, the other half of the famed Splash Brothers, would have a storied season himself, as he would end up taking the 3rd spot for the most three pointers in a season, finishing with 276 three pointers on the year. Klay and Steph combined to beat their record for most three pointers made in a season, as they bested their previous record of 525 with a staggering 678 three pointers on the year. The whole team itself would finish with 1,077 three pointers made on the year, another record set by the Warriors. The progression of Klay has been amazing to watch however, as he's gotten better year after year. He finished this season with his highest field goal percentage, shooting 47% from the field and averaging a career high 22.1 PPG on the season. Not to mention, Klay won the three point contest during All Star weekend, beating out the 2015 winner, his Splash Brother himself Steph Curry. Klay was voted into the All Star game as well and managed to prove that he's one of the premier shooting guards in the league, having a stellar year as well. The depth of the Warriors roster is well known, and while Steph and Klay had received accolades for the past few seasons, there was one player who truly stepped up this year, and that man is Draymond Green.

Draymond Green started the season being seen as a respectable player and a solid option for the Warriors. He has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2015, and while he hadn't received many accolades, he was showing tremendous improvement with his game. This season would be a breakout year of sorts for the 2nd round pick out of Michigan State, as he would prove that he was worth his 5 year, 82 million dollar contract by putting up 13 triple-doubles this season, the most any Warriors player has ever produced in a single season. At the beginning of the season, Green only had 2 career triple-doubles. By the end of the season, he would put up 13. In one year. This season was the breakout year essentially for Draymond, as he finished with tons of career highs on the season. He averaged 14.0 PPG, 1.4 BPG,  7.4 APG, 9.5 RPG, and shot 49% from the field, all solid numbers and career highs for him. He also shot 38 % from three point range and got voted into his first All Star Game. The three headed monster of Steph, Klay, and Draymond was born this season, as Green stepped up to showcase that he is a centerpiece of this Warriors team. To cap off the year, he also became the first player in NBA history to finish with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks in a season, which is nothing short of amazing.

Speaking of the team, they began the season with an amazing 24 game winning streak led by Luke Walton, the interim coach while Steve Kerr was out with an injury. Shockingly, Luke Walton did an amazing job crafting the Warriors to get that winning streak moving. Let's take a look at that streak shall we?

With the first game of the season against the Pelicans, the Warriors came out swinging and picked up a 111-95 victory, as Steph put up 40 points and 7 assists to start them off 1-0. Steph would lead them once again a few days later to 2-0, with a 112-92 victory over the Rockets. In an amazing show of offense, Steph put up 53 points and 9 assists to help the Warriors go 3-0 over the Pelicans again 134-120. It would be the 4th game of the season that truly showed that the Warriors weren't a team to be messed with. They massacred the Memphis Grizzlies in an amazing 119-69 victory where Steph put up 30 points. After wins over the Clippers and the Denver Nuggets, the Warriors would show small signs of fatigue and pull out a close victory over the Sacramento Kings, before regrouping with three double digit victory wins over the Detroit Pistons, the Grizzlies, and the Minnesota Timberwolves (Steph puts up 46), before two close games at home against the Brooklyn Nets (which went into overtime) and the Toronto Raptors.

The Clippers have always been viewed as a big adversary for the Warriors and they always seem to play them well, but the Warriors ended up getting a 124-117 victory over them to continue the win streak as Steph supplied 40 points and 11 rebounds. After double digit victories against the Chicago Bulls, the Nuggets, the Lakers (a terrible 111-77 blowout), the Phoenix Suns, and The Kings, the Warriors went the distance with the Utah Jazz, in a close 106-103 game. The Warriors went October and November undefeated. They were making it look a little too easy, and December proved to be a challenge of sorts, after they started the month with a 116-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets as Steph once again put up 40 points. Steph kept his momentum going, as he would supply his team with a 44 point and 7 assist performance to help them pull out a road victory over the Raptors 112-109.

The team would begin to show small signs of slowing down and after two convincing victories over the Nets and the Indiana Pacers, they were pushed to double overtime by the Boston Celtics on the road, before gaining a 124-119 victory. The infamous winning streak would then come to an end, as the Warriors lost the 2nd game of a back to back against the Milwaukee Bucks, 108-95. The Bucks were hungry and the Warriors were beaten down and tired. The Warriors would regroup after this loss, and get back on track, picking up a 128-103 win over the Suns and gaining redemption with a 121-112 victory over the Bucks. After a win over the Jazz, the Warriors prepared for a Finals rematch game against the team they bested in 6, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors heard the whispers all year about how if the Cavs had a healthy Kyrie and Love, they could blow the Warriors out. This was a different Warriors team. A better one. Kyrie wasn't healthy yet, but Love was, and the Cavs put up a fight before getting defeated 89-83 on Christmas. After the close game, the Warriors had another victory over the Kings, and they would experience their 2nd loss on the season so far, taking a loss to the Dallas Mavericks 114-91 as Steph missed this game due to a minor injury issue. The next game, would close out the month of December, as the Warriors edged a victory over the Rockets 114-110. They finished the month of December 11-2 and carried a bit of momentum over into 2016.

The year started off well for the Warriors, as they would garner an OT victory over the Nuggets 111-108, and then with Steph back in the lineup, both he and Klay put up 30 points each to defeat the Hornets 111-101. After an 109-88 victory over the Lakers, a blowout of the Blazers 128-108, a 128-116 win over the Kings, and a hard fought victory over the Miami Heat 111-103, the Warriors would lose their 3rd game on the season to the Nuggets 112-110, despite Steph having a great game of 38 points and 9 assists. The rest of the team didn't produce like they needed to. This is one game that I feel they should have won, but the chips didn't fall where they should have in the end. After yet another victory over the Lakers 116-98, the Warriors took their 4th loss in a near blowout against the Pistons, 113-95, where Steph yet again put up 38 points, but the rest of the team just couldn't hit the right shots. What followed next was the toughest stretch of games for them on the season so far and many believed the Warriors would lose at least one or two of these games. The Warriors would face the Cavs, the Bulls, the Pacers, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Dallas Mavericks (a team that had already beat them on the year) in 5 games over about a week or so. How would the Warriors fare in these 5 tough games?

They responded in the only way they knew how to: with mostly blowout victories. The Cavs had Love healthy and Kyrie healthy, along with Lebron, and it meant nothing. The Warriors assaulted the Cavs in a 132-98 victory, where Steph lit them up for 35 points. Their game against the Bulls was just as equally dominant, as they won 125-94 on the strength of Steph putting up 25 points and 11 assists. The Pacers game was more of the same with a slightly better score for the opposition, as the Warriors controlled the tempo of the game and won 122-110, as Steph finished with 39 points and 12 assists. Now, the matchup with the Spurs was expected to either be a game where the Warriors finally lost again, but they would blowout the Spurs 120-90, as Steph put up 37 points to knock another tough opponent down. While Steph was going crazy and having amazing nights shooting, the next three games would be amazing displays from Klay, as he began to catch fire. He finished the Dallas game with 45 points, as the Warriors redeemed themselves with a 127-107 victory before pulling out a close victory over the Philadelphia 76ers 108-105, led by Klay's 32 points. The final game of January saw the Warriors handily defeat the New York Knicks, as Klay had another hot game, finishing with 34 points to help the Warriors garner a 116-95 victory. They would finish the month 14-2, carrying a masterful 44-4 record into February. This was the first time a team in history put up that record. It was quite remarkable to witness.

February was a shorter month of course, and with the Warriors only having 2 home games that month and a long road trip, there was some belief that the Warriors could lose a few games, as they were due to face threatening teams like the Atlanta Hawks, the Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder twice, and the Washington Wizards. However, the reigning MVP would step up huge during this month, starting with his 51 point performance in a 134-121 victory over the Wizards to kick the month off. With a home game against the Thunder next, the Warriors struggled to keep the Thunder controlled during the game, and even though Steph put up 26 points and 10 assists, it was close throughout. The Warriors pulled a victory out over the Thunder, 116-108, but there was belief that the Thunder might have the Warriors number later on in the month. Unfazed, the Warriors prepared for a long streak of road games with a home win over the Rockets 123-110, led yet again by Steph with an amazing 35 point and 9 assist showing. Before the All Star Break, the Warriors would start a 7 game road trip with a solid 112-104 victory over the Suns, with another great performance by Curry, as Steph almost got himself a triple-double, putting up 26 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.

After the break, the Warriors took their 5th loss on the year to the Blazers, as they couldn't seem to stop Damian Lillard, in a stinging 137-105 loss, despite a 31 point showing from Steph. The cracks in the armor were slowly starting to show, as the Warriors struggled on the road against the Clippers before pulling out a 115-112 victory. However, after a small regroup and two tough games, the Warriors got back to it, and this is where I believe Steph solidified his impending MVP Award for this season, as he went on an absolute spree to close out the month of February with 4 straight phenomenal performances in 4 straight victories. There was the 36 point performance against the Hawks in a 102-92 victory. Then, he put up 42 points and 7 assists in a solid 118-112 victory against the Heat. On the end of a back to back, Curry put up an amazing 51 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists to lead the Warriors over the Orlando Magic 130-114. Finally, Steph closed out the month with possibly his best performance yet, as he led the Warriors over the Thunder in OT 121-118, with a 46 point game, along with tying the record of 12 three pointers in a game with a last second, game winning, clutch half court short that still amazes me when I see it. Steph in the month of February was nothing short of spectacular, winning the award for Western Conference Player Of The Month (he also won it in October-November) and the Warriors finished 9-1 on the month and went into March with a 53-5 record, on pace to break the Bulls record of 72-10. Could the Warriors keep this pace up?

The month of March started off with a tough game, as the Warriors got taken to OT by the Hawks before pulling out a 109-105 victory. The next game would be their final one of the season against the Thunder and this time there was no need for a last second game winner, because the Warriors convincingly won the game 121-106 to go undefeated against the Thunder this season. In a shocking turn of events however, the Lakers, the worst team in the Western Conference, would beat the Warriors for their 6th loss on the year in a 112-95 victory that was a bit of a surprise, but unfortunately the Warriors just had an off shooting night. They couldn't get any shots to fall, and despite blowing out the Lakers in previous games this season, they couldn't get the job done here. The Warriors regrouped and defeated the Magic at ORACLE Arena 119-113, as Steph had yet another great game against the Magic, finishing with 41 points on the night. The Warriors would make easy work of the Jazz (115-94), the Blazers (128-112), the Suns (123-116), the Pelicans (125-107), the Knicks (121-85), and the Mavericks (130-112) before facing the toughest test of their season.

The San Antonio Spurs were easily the 2nd best team in the NBA (and some would argue the best period), and many looked at this game as a loss already for the Warriors. This game was on the end of a back to back, the Spurs were playing at home(and undefeated at home), all the Warriors losses so far were on the road, and the Spurs were rested. Many predicted the Spurs to blowout the Warriors as a result, but the Warriors kept it close to the end. The Spurs had a formula to stop Steph and slow the offense, but the Warriors would keep it close and lose 87-79 on a rare off night where the highest scorer for the Warriors was Klay with only 15 points. Were the Warriors fatigued? Tired? Worn out? Would this lead to a late season  collapse and cause them to not break the Bulls' record?

Of course not. The Warriors regrouped as always and came back with a victory over the Timberwolves 109-104, then a 128-114 win over the Clippers. The Warriors would close out their March with victories over the Mavericks (128-120), the 76ers (117-105), and then back to back wins over the Wizards (102-94) and the Jazz in OT (103-96). The Warriors were admittedly looking a little slower in some of these games, as I'm sure the pressure and the amount of games were starting to take a toll and as they closed out March with a 15-2 record for the month and an overall record of 68-7, they knew that with just another 7 games to go, they had a solid goal within reach. History was staring them right in the face and the Warriors were only 7 games away from making it happen. Would they be able to pull it together and close out the regular season the right way? With games against the Celtics, Wolves, Portland, and two games against the Grizzlies, it seemed as if the Warriors had an easy path to 73 wins and could afford to lose the 2 remaining games they had on the season with the Spurs. How the remainder of the regular season played out for Warriors was a bit surprising, but they made their mark regardless.

To be honest, the Warriors should have finished the season 74-8, or 75-7. However, they underestimated the tough Celtics team and took an unfortunate 109-106 close loss, which could have been avoided. Perhaps the Warriors took it easy for a reason, but the Celtics broke the Warriors home winning streak and stopped it at 54 regular season games over the last two seasons. At 68-8, the chances of breaking the record seemed in doubt with two games remaining against the Spurs and a possible fluke loss against the Grizzlies. They came back strong and blew out the Blazers 136-111 on the strength of a 39 point performance from Curry to make it 69-8 on the year. They had a game against the Wolves next at home, and this one for the first 3 quarters seemed like a victory impending for the Warriors, but the Wolves came back and won it in OT, 124-117, to make it 69-9 on the year. With their next game against the Spurs and another back to back coming, the chances for the Warriors to break the record seemed slim. They would have to win every game remaining in the season to do it and with 2 losses in their last 3 games, it seemed like the Warriors might choke and miss their chance at history.

However, even when with Coach Pop starting most of his starters against the Warriors, the Spurs couldn't manage to keep up with them, and the Warriors got win no. 70 against the Spurs with a dominant 112-101 victory. The next game against the Grizzlies showed the Warriors looking slow for a majority of the game, and the Grizzlies commanded a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter. However, once Steph caught fire and the team went at the Grizzlies tough, they pulled out a shocking 100-99 controversial victory to make it 71-9 on the year. They had another game the very next night on the road against the Spurs, and most expected the Spurs to win this one, as the Spurs were still undefeated at home. The Warriors had other plans. Steph put up 37 points to lead the Warriors over the Spurs and go 72-9 with a 92-86 victory. Once again, the Warriors controlled the pace of the game and as a result, they got a solid win. The only reason why the score was so close at the end was because the Warriors let up a little near the final moments of the game. The Warriors had controlled most of the tempo throughout. With three straight wins, the Warriors had a chance to make history at home. They would face the Grizzlies one last time with an opportunity to break the Bulls' record and go 73-9 for the first time in NBA history.

April 13, 2016. The final game and day of the regular NBA season. In the hoopla of the final game of Kobe Bryant's NBA season, there was something special happening at ORACLE Arena. The Grizzlies were in town and the Warriors were looking to make history. At 72-9, they were one win away from becoming the first 73-9 team in NBA history. As the tipoff occurred, the energy was buzzing in the building and the Warriors were looking to solidify their spot in the history books. Through the first half, the Warriors seemed unstoppable, and Steph Curry would nail three after three to give the Warriors the advantage. As the 3rd quarter came to a close, Steph would take a seat and rest the 4th quarter. He put up 46 points with 10 three pointers on the night in just 29 minutes of playing time. When the game was over, the Warriors would see themselves in the history books after a 125-104 dominant victory over the Grizzlies. It would be a historic night in general, as Kobe scored 60 and the game winning shot and free throws in his final game, and the Warriors set a brand new record. It capped off an amazing season of efficiency, willpower and control for the Warriors. They were headed into the playoffs as the no. 1 seed yet again, having broke and set a ton of records, and momentum was once again on their side. They didn't lose 2 games in a row the entire season, and also didn't lose the same team twice, a feat that is still astonishing.

When it is all said and done, what we witnessed this season was something that is once in a generation or a lifetime. The Bulls were a once in a generation type of team and they ended up with two 3 peats over 8 seasons. Could the Warriors be headed down a similar path? Last year, they went 67-15 and coasted to a title. This year, they're heavily favored and finished the season with an amazing 73-9. They are now playoff tested and once you win that first title, the desire for another championship is always strong. What's crazy is that I couldn't see another team in this generation doing the things the Warriors have done this year, as the season has been surreal. Is there a team that good besides them that could go 74-8? I can't envision it being the Spurs, especially with Parker, Duncan, and Manu likely retiring this season or next season. I can't see the Cavs winning 60 games in a season, let alone 70. I can't see any other team putting up 1000 three pointers in the same season as well. While some have taken to disregarding the Warriors and their accomplishments this year, I personally appreciate witnessing a once in a generation team. The 2015-2016 Warriors just had the best regular season we've ever seen, and if they can complete the task and win a 2nd championship, we will have witnessed the greatest season in NBA history period. That is all that is left. Playoffs are now underway. Will the Warriors cement their historic season with a 2nd straight title? We shall see.



Popular Posts