The Warriors already knew their NBA regular-season win record from 2015-16 was safe entering this season. No team can touch their 73-win total during a 72-game campaign.
But looking at the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers this season, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he sees some similarities between the teams.
“They have the confidence that comes with winning a championship,” Kerr said Sunday. “And they don’t have the fatigue that comes with winning multiple championships. This is really a sweet spot. It’s kind of where we found ourselves the year we won 73.
“You come back, it’s almost a continuation of your championship season. You’re on top of the world, everybody’s happy, you add some layers to what you already did. It’s just a deeper confidence in what you’re doing.”
The Warriors and Lakers will face off for the first time this season Monday night at Staples Center. Golden State is tied for eighth in the Western Conference with its 6-6 record, while the Lakers are alone at the top with their 11-3 mark.
LeBron James (24.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists per game) and Anthony Davis (21.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game) continue to be superstars for the reigning NBA champs.
“They have championship confidence,” Curry said Sunday. “Once you get to that mountaintop, it’s kind of an unreal feeling to try and carry it over to the next season. … They have new additions, but they have an identity and know how to play off each other. Obviously, Bron and AD are playing at a very high level, but everybody’s playing their role, doing their part.”
But Curry and James know that a great regular season means nothing if you don’t bring home the trophy. Back in the 2016 Finals, James and his Cleveland Cavaliers extinguished the Warriors’ hopes of going down as the greatest team in NBA history with a Game 7 victory.
This season, the Warriors are trying to prove themselves as playoff contenders, but the West is deep again, and Golden State has lost its past two games. Kerr said the team has benefited from extra practice sessions after Friday’s contest against the Suns was postponed because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
Monday’s game will be a good test to see how Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre can handle defending James, along with James Wiseman against vets such as Davis and Marc Gasol.
“It’s no coincidence they’re starting off well,” Curry said. “It takes a lot to beat them, so you’ve got to come in with the right mentality and try to meet them at that level.”