Three Takeaways from NBA Sunday: Warriors chasing history, Spurs chasing Warriors
What you missed on a Sunday in the NBA while you were busy calling random Swedes... 1) The pecking order in the West clearly established as Warriors beat Spurs to set up a shot at 73 wins. The Golden State Warriors have tied Michael Jordan’s Bulls for most wins in an NBA season — and they did that by beating a 65-win Spurs team in San Antonio, where nobody had beaten the Spurs all season. Let that sink in for a minute. Stephen Curry was back to doing the ridiculous scoring 37 points on 22 shots. More importantly, the Warriors defense was back in sync, holding the Spurs to an offensive rating of 93.1 (points per 100 possessions, that is 15.4 below the Spurs season average).
Stop and savor what we are seeing people. This is basketball history. It’s entertaining basketball played unselfishly. If you’re response has been “it means nothing without a ring” or “these Warriors couldn’t hold a candle to those Bulls” — yes, we’re looking at you Scottie Pippen — I’ve got to ask why you think Michael Jordan needs you to defend him? No doubt those Bulls are some of the greatest teams in NBA history, nobody is disputing that. They set the bar. The Warriors are trying to establish a legacy to be in that conversation. Welcome to sports. That a team is trying to get into the rarefied air should not be an invitation to shoot them down, it’s a chance to see how high they can fly.
As for the Spurs, they were without Tim Duncan, and they will get their chance in the Western Conference Finals (barring a major upset). This is a good team, but what David West told the Express-News summed it up: “They’re the best and we’re chasing them.”
2) Pacers win, meaning Bulls officially eliminated from playoffs. When the season started most pundits (myself included) had the Bulls in the second tier in the East, the “this is a pretty good team that maybe could challenge Cleveland if everything goes perfectly” tier. Things did not go perfectly. Or even well. Turns out these Bulls aren’t even a playoff team in the East. That dream ended when, as expected, the Pacers beat the Nets on Sunday behind 28 points from rookie Myles Turner.
This sets up an interesting summer in Chicago, where they need to reshape a roster so it can both defend better (that fell off without Tom Thibodeau’s yelling) and play Fred Hoiberg’s space-and-pace style (Jimmy Butler needs to adjust to that system). Pau Gasol is likely gone and it’s going to take a lot of money to convince Joakim Noah to stay. Derrick Rose’s name will come up in trade rumors, but the reality of getting another team to take on his contract means he may stay put. It’s going to be an unpredictable summer in the Windy City.
3) No J.J. Barea and the Mavs winning streak ends at six; playoff spot not secure yet. It feels like Dallas should be safe for a playoff spot in the West, up two games on nine-seed Houston with two to play. But Dallas has two tough games — Utah and the Spurs — while the Rockets have two very winnable games, and the tiebreaker. Dallas needs a win (that showdown with eight-seed Utah, which is one game up on Houston, is huge Monday).
The Mavericks could have used a win Monday, but with J.J. Barea joining the long list of injured Mavs they were no match for the Clippers and fell 98-91. J.J. Redick had 20 and Jamal Crawford continued his Sixth Man of the Year push with 22. However, the real news for the Clippers is that in the second half Blake Griffin started to look like himself again, finding a rhythm.
Raymond Felton led the Mavs with 24. Deron Williams was back and added 15. Barea said he was hopeful he could go against the Jazz Monday, they are going to need him.