Warriors

Warriors

With the presumed threat posed by the Indiana Pacers behind them, the Warriors face no obvious hazards on the road to 34. There could be a few bumps, to be sure, but the ride from here is mostly downhill.

This assumes, of course, Klay Thompson’s sprained right ankle is as minor as he believed in the aftermath of a 131-123 victory at Indiana on Tuesday night. If so, the goal of winning 34 consecutive games becomes altogether attainable.

We take a look ahead at the next seven games, for the Warriors must win them all to claim a new record for consecutive NBA wins.

And, in hopes of satisfying those who somehow feel the record ought to be set within a single season, we also check out the four games beyond that.

Dec. 11: At Boston. This is a team the Warriors should handle, particularly if Thompson is available. Love Isaiah Thomas, but he’ll be exposed if he has to defend against a Curry-Thompson backcourt. Beware, though, because the Celtics can score in big numbers while also defending very well. With a healthy Thompson, the Warriors have an 80 percent chance to win. Without, it drops to 65.

Dec. 12: At Milwaukee. The Bucks can’t shoot, won’t rebound and don’t know now to protect the rim. They’ve been a disappointment. The only real concern is that this will be, for the Warriors, the second night of a back-to-back set. It smells like a trap game, but the Warriors are sly enough to get past that. With a healthy Thompson, the Warriors have a 90 percent chance of winning. Without, it drops to 75.

 

Dec. 16: Phoenix. Back in the confines of Oracle Arena –- where they’ll be for the next two weeks –- the Warriors should be riding a tidal wave of energy from the win streak and the NBA’s loudest fan base. The Suns have too many weaknesses to stand in the way of that. With a healthy Thompson, they have a 95 percent chance of winning. Without, it drops to 85.

Dec. 18: Milwaukee. The Bucks will improve as the season goes on, but they won’t be appreciably better than they were six days earlier. And this time, they’ll be in Oakland. We’re assuming Thompson will be back, and maybe Harrison Barnes, too. Healthy Warriors: 97 percent. If not: 85 percent.

Dec. 23: Utah. This is an interesting opponent, as the Warriors slipped out of Salt Lake City with a slim victory on Nov. 30. This time the game is in Oakland and the Jazz will be without paint-patrolling center Rudy Gobert. That makes a huge difference. It’ll be fun, however, to see Utah trying to defend and paint while also defending the arc. Healthy Warriors: 90 percent. If not: 78 percent.

Dec. 25: Cleveland. At last, the game so many circled when the schedule came out four months ago. If Iman Shumpert and Kyrie Irving are back, and both could be, this is the most anticipated game of the season. But the Cavs have lost three of four. Can they be whole and unified by then? Healthy Warriors: 75 percent. If not: 65 percent.

Dec. 28: Sacramento. The Warriors beaten these guys 10 consecutive times, and nothing will change if the defending champs enter this game undefeated. The Kings have too many holes to have a legitimate chance. Healthy Warriors: 95 percent. If not: 80 percent.

Dec. 30: At Dallas. Back on the road, against a team with explosive ability, this has the potential to be treacherous. But it’s tough to see the Mavs’ backcourt, Deron Williams and Wes Matthews, meeting the defensive challenge posed by Curry and Thompson. Healthy Warriors: 80 percent. If not: 65 percent.

Dec. 31: At Houston. The NBA’s most enigmatic team would love to spoil a Warriors party, right? Who knows? The Rockets are too bizarre to figure out. They should be dangerous, but they haven’t been. The Warriors will assume they are, and that will be that. Healthy Warriors: 80 percent. If not: 65 percent.

Jan. 2: Denver. No way the Nuggets with all their problems would keep the Warriors from tying the record – certainly not when the game is at Oracle. Imagine the roar. Feel the vibration. Healthy Warriors: 99 percent. If not: 90 percent.

Jan. 4: Charlotte: This would be the 34th consecutive win to start the season, the 38th consecutive overall. The Hornets quite likely will be in the playoffs, largely because they play in the Eastern Conference. Beating the Warriors in Oakland, at this stage, is beyond them.

 

Conclusion: The Warriors have about 55 percent chance of getting to Christmas undefeated, in which case they’ll beat Cleveland and tie the record. Assuming they win the next six, count on the Warriors to set a new record.