Everyone knows the number is 73. The Warriors won’t talk about it. Their coach won’t talk about it. But the number seems to worm its way into every interview in every NBA city as the team piles up win after win.
Coach Steve Kerr knows something about how hard it is to win 73 games. He was a member of the 1995-96 Bulls team that won 72, which stands as an NBA record but might not at the end of this season if the Warriors keep winning at their current pace.
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On Sunday night, before the Warriors’ 116-95 win over the Knicks at the Garden improved their record to 44-4 (a 75-win pace), Kerr was asked if he sees similarities between the great team he is coaching and the great team he played for.
“Well, I think the similarity is you have to be good at both ends to win at this rate,” he said. “There are going to be games where your shot doesn’t go in and you have to rely on your ‘D’. There are going to be games where you are tired and not with it defensively and you have to be able to make shots. And this team is capable of doing both, and we are at our best when we do both those things. I think that’s a character that those Bulls teams had.”
On great teams, Kerr said, when one thing isn’t working, something else has to happen to make up for it. With that as a blueprint, the Warriors showed Sunday night why they have what it takes to be that kind of team. NBA leading scorer Stephen Curry didn’t attempt a shot the entire second quarter, and the Warriors still scored 37 points to take control of the game.
Draymond Green, who after Saturday’s win in Philadelphia apologized to his teammates because he had been so obsessed with going for a triple-double that he took them out of the flow of the game, actually recorded one against the Knicks. He had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and shot 9-for-9 from the field.
Kerr knows how hard it is to be a great team. He knows how important it is to keep that edge, which may be why he chewed out his team on the sideline at the beginning of the second quarter, getting so upset that he broke his clipboard.
“We’re well aware that this is uncommon to have a group like this, to have a run like this, to be coming off a title and playing the way we are,” he said. “This is an era that we should relish and take advantage of. Because it’s not always going to be like this.”