The Warriors are three wins away from breaking the all-time record for wins in an NBA season. They only have three games left to accomplish that feat, but whether they should even try is up for debate.
At 70-9, Golden State has locked up the top seed and home court advantage throughout the playoffs. There's nothing left to play for except the record, no small thing. But going all out to break it undermines one of the core principles that helped this team win a championship last season: rest.
As noted by ESPN's Tom Haberstroh after the 2015 Finals, the Warriors used wearable technology to carefully manage the activity of the players. Coach Steve Kerr rested Stephen Curry in 20 fourth quarters of the regular season. And other than Curry, no one averaged above 32 minutes per game on that team.
The strategy was most evident in the Finals matchup against the injury-ravaged Cavaliers, led by LeBron James. James had played above 36 minutes per game in the regular season, then logged 42 per game in the playoffs. Cleveland simply couldn't keep up.
This season has been a different story for the Warriors as they've tried to run down Michael Jordan's 1995-96 Bulls.
Using NBA.com's usage data to compare the minutes played by Warriors starters from this season to last, it's clear that three core players -- Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- have logged significantly more time on the court.
Curry is averaging 34 minutes per game this season, up from 32 last year. Green has played 35 minutes per game (31.5 last season), while Thompson is logging 31 (28 last season).
Those increases may look small on a single game basis, but are substantial when stretched out over a full season.
Let's assume the Warriors go for the record, and Curry, Green and Thompson play average minutes over the final three games.
In that case, Curry would finish the regular season having played 90 more minutes than last year, the equivalent of almost three games for him. For Green, the increase would be 324 more minutes, which comes out to nearly 10 more games. Thompson would see an uptick of 212 minutes year over year (around 6.5 more games).
Even if all three rested until the playoffs, Green and Thompson would have played what amounts to 7 and 3.5 more games than they did last year. Curry's workload would be about even.
So in deciding whether to go for the record, the Warriors must not only weigh players' desires, but also decide how much rest is worth to their title chase. If last year is any indication, that could be a lot.