Given turn of events, 73 wins now improbable for Warriors


Given turn of events, 73 wins now improbable for Warriors

OAKLAND -– That 73-win target, so visible to the Warriors only a few days ago, remains in sight but now it’s bright light in the dark distance.

The Warriors still can reach the 73 games required to lift the all-time single-season wins record from the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. They would need to take 14 of the final 17 games. It’s very possible and much less probable.

The conditions have taken a significant turn for the worse with the loss of forward/guard Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala’s absence for most, if not all, of the final month of the regular season is going to hurt the Warriors in myriad ways, but it profoundly jeopardizes their chances of seizing the NBA record for wins in a season.

[POOLE: Warriors forward Iguodala out at least two weeks]

It always was going to be incredibly difficult. Without Iguodala, who easily could miss more than the set minimum of two weeks, any reasonable chance has been killed. The Warriors, 59-6, would have to defy reason.

“We obviously need Andre and we’ve got to get him healthy for the playoffs,” coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s the main thing. Hopefully, we’ll get him back well before that. He’s so important to what we do.”

Iguodala is the bridge between the first and second unit. He’s the team’s best perimeter defender. He makes good things happen for the Warriors, regardless of his numbers on a given night. He controls tempo, pushing when it’s advantageous and pulling back when it’s prudent. Iguodala does what he perceives is needed at a given time, and if there were a Mensa for basketball intellect he’d be in the club.

“We’re going to be without a lot of brain power,” assistant coach Ron Adams conceded.

“Along with (Festus) Ezeli,” Adams added, “that’s two of our first seven guys that are out.”

The Warriors hardly skipped a beat when Ezeli went down Jan. 25. They were 41-4 then and they’re 18-2 since, largely because Marreese Speights found his game when it was needed most.

But the loss of Iguodala puts the Warriors in an altogether different predicament. There is no individual who replaces his comprehensive contributions. Shaun Livingston will play more, and so will Brandon Rush. Livingston is capable of filling the playmaking gap, while Rush surely can fill the shooting gap. The rest of the gaps, and Iguodala fills a great many, will go unplugged.

The substitution patterns, as seen in a laborious Saturday night win over Phoenix, are all over the place and Kerr and his staff will search for complimentary combinations.

[RELATED: Warriors clinch back-to-back Pacific Division titles]

“We’re going to experiment and see how things look,” Kerr said. “You’ll definitely see more of Shaun, within reason – we don’t want to wear him down – but he’s going to have to play a few more minutes to make up for Andre’s absence.”

Livingston is fine playing 15 to 24 minutes a night. If the number pushes toward 30 minutes, the hard years and the multiple surgeries required to keep his body game-ready could conspire a physical revolt.

While the bench brigade surely must become more consistently dynamic – a challenge in itself – the starters also must extend themselves. More will be needed from Steph Curry, who is playing at MVP level. More will be needed from Klay Thompson, particularly on defense. Much more will be required of Harrison Barnes, who has spent recent weeks on his own private island.

The Warriors face the Spurs three times in the final month, and Iguodala certainly will sit out at least once. He won’t be there to defend Carmelo Anthony when they face the Knicks on Wednesday. Igoudala is going to miss the Mavericks twice and the Clippers too.

So it’s more, more, more. And more. And it’s all because one man is not available.

“That’s something we have to get used to for however long he’s going to be out,” Curry said of Iguodala. “We run the same offense. It’s just one less playmaker, ball-handler and big-time defender.”

That’s Curry, for whom nothing is impossible, breaking it down the core, analyzing a problem and preparing an application that brings a solution.

The quest for the No. 1 overall seed, which the Warriors have wisely stated as their top priority, remains very much within their grasp. It’s almost certain should they accomplish another of their goals, winning the remaining 11 home games to be the first team ever to post an undefeated season at home.

But going 14-3 down the stretch, without Iguodala, is a lot to ask, even of a team that has done more than any other so deep into a season.

Kings' rise to playoff contention should resonate with true Warriors fans

Kings' rise to playoff contention should resonate with true Warriors fans

OAKLAND – Much of the Now Generation barely knows how the Warriors lived before being plucked from the trash bin by an ambitious ownership group actually sincere in its vow to pursue greatness.

Before becoming the super team that “broke” the NBA a few years ago, the Warriors spent the better part of 20 years wearing the league’s brightest clown suit. They were submerged in such a toxic stew of instability, ineptitude and avarice that 42 wins was all it took for their fans to express full-throated “We Believe” euphoria.

Belief meant snapping a 13-year playoff drought.

The Warriors were, at that time, about where the Sacramento Kings were at the start of this season. By coincidence, the Kings are trying to put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.

Even for the Warriors fan that would like to crush the Kings into a fine purple powder, it is refreshing to see the Kings making themselves significant. They come into Oracle Arena on Thursday night with a 30-27 record – already more wins than they’ve achieved in eight of the last 10 seasons. They’re a part of a postseason race for the first time since

“Great story, great for Northern California, great for Sacramento,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says.

There’s a buzz in Sacramento that should be somewhat familiar to the Warriors fan of a dozen years ago – or to those that remember the 61-win Kings of Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divic, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Bobby Jackson.

The dazzling point guard, De’Aaron Fox is 21. The sharpshooter, Buddy Hield, is 26. Marvin Bagley III is 19, Harry Giles 20. Coach Dave Joerger is in the Coach of the Year discussion.

There are reasons why the Warriors have had difficulty shaking these dudes. After splitting four games with Sacramento last season, the champs this season are 3-0 – but with a win margin of 3.3 points.

“I love watching them play,” Kerr says. “Dave has done a fantastic job with the team. They’re exciting, they’re young and fun and full of energy. They’re tough to beat.”

Such talented youth is why the Kings have a future that can’t compare to the current Warriors, but is considerably much brighter than the “We Believe” bunch.

When Kerr was asked about a potential Warriors-Kings playoff series, he politely, and wisely, steered clear. His prerogative.

Here, though, we think a Warriors-Kings series in the first round would be great fun to watch. It wouldn’t be terribly competitive, but the Warriors could benefit from facing a team that out to change its status within the NBA.

Indeed, the Kings and the Lakers are the two most captivating first-round opponents for the Warriors. Any time LeBron James steps on the court to face the Warriors, it’s an event. And the idea of a team on the rise and only 80 miles away – and the former home of DeMarcus Cousins – ensures electricity.

To be sure, the appeal of either far outshines that of, say, the Spurs or the Timberwolves.

As someone eager for playoff hoops the Warriors were not able to provide, I often drove up to Sacramento in April and May. I saw and heard a man run out of Arco Arena sobbing and screaming after the Shaq-Kobe Lakers came back for an overtime win in Game 7 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. It was the third consecutive postseason that the Kings were ousted by the Lakers.

When the Kings were contenders, their fans were annoyingly loud and profoundly engaged. The equivalent of Warriors fans at their most vociferous.

[RELATED: Five issues Warriors must confront to clear path to another championship]

“That place has always had great fans,” Kerr said. “I remember back in the day, going into Arco. So I’m happy for their fans because it’s been a while since they’ve been able to really connect with their team. And this team is easy to connect with.”

It seems somehow appropriate that on Thursday the Warriors will honor the “We Believe” team, with coach Don Nelson will be joined by Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson and Kelenna Azubuike at Oracle Arena.

If any fan can identify with the despair of those following the “Kangz,” it is the Warriors fan that remembers Keith Jennings and Bill Curley, endured Jason Caffey and Tony Farmer, and once saw Larry Hughes is the savior.

Kyrie Irving frustrated with free agency questions about Kevin Durant video

Kyrie Irving frustrated with free agency questions about Kevin Durant video

In a season where the Warriors have a chance to cement themselves as one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history, what could happen this summer is stealing headlines.

Especially if you're Kevin Durant. 

Even when the Warriors star forward won his second NBA All-Star Game MVP, all anyone could talk about over the weekend was a video that surfaced of Durant and Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. Here's the gist of the clip: two superstar friends are laughing and having a conversation with each other.

Simple, right?

Oh, and both players could be free agents this summer and join up as teammates.

Irving was asked about the video Wednesday and a frustrating exchange ensued between point guard and reporter. 

From the social media uproar, Irving goes on to say, "This is the stuff that doesn't make the league fun."

The following is the full transcript and video of his responses. 

Durant has had his own issues with the media. He went silent for nine days before unleashing a tirade during a Warriors postgame press conference.

[RELATED: Warriors 'have no idea' what Kevin Durant will do in free agency]

The good news for both players is this -- basketball is back. The All-Star break is over and games can again be the focus when talking about both of these players. 

Well, maybe.