Despite not getting the job done against the Cavaliers in the Finals, NBA fans will never forget the roller coaster ride that was the Warriors chase for 73-wins. It was a fairy tale that seemed to just keep getting better and more unimaginable with every passing game - it was the magic of sport and competition at its finest. Among all of the craziness surrounding the Golden State Warriors as a team, we were also treated to one of the most sensational regular seasons of all-time by Stephen Curry, learned that alpha-dog Draymond Green is the real deal and here to stay, and confirmed indeed that Klay Thompson can (literally) shoot with the lights out (YouTube this now!). It was a moment in sports history that will live on forever and although the Warriors fell victim to LeBron James at the end of the road, this accomplishment should be forever appreciated and never forgotten.
The Warriors last season possessed the highest average margin of victory in the NBA at 10.8 points per game and this increased to 14.4 points per game when playing at home in Oracle Arena. That being said, as great as the Golden State Warriors proved to be last season, this is still professional sports and pulling off an accomplishment such as a 73-win season requires a bit of luck and good fortune along the way. In this article, we take a look back at the historical season that was and focus in on a handful of key games that really helped to create the fabric for this sensational and historical run. The Warriors dominated many, but as mentioned before, 73 wins requires a great deal of luck. Thus, we have looked back and chronologically for each, recalled eight times that the Warriors should have lost a tight game and seven times that they looked untouchable. For the record, "vs" denotes a home game and "@" denotes a road game.
15 Should Have Lost: vs. Brooklyn Nets (11/14/15)
The Brooklyn Nets? How on earth could the Warriors have almost lost to the Brooklyn Nets? Well in case you don't remember, let's take a trip down NBA memory lane - maybe we will even find Greg Oden somewhere! The Warriors to this point of the season were 10-0 and had been absolutely cruising along in every game to date. Brooklyn, on the flip side, had just one victory and were hungry to earn some respect from the NBA's elite.
Brooklyn would jump out to an assertive 36-21 lead after the first quarter of play and took a two point lead into the second half. With the score sitting at 97-94 for Brooklyn with just nine seconds left on the clock, the crowd inside Oracle Arena began to feel extremely anxious, as losing to the Nets was now a very real possibility. Golden State would inbound the ball, allowing Andre Iguodala to get off an extremely awkward three-pointer and tie the game at 97 with just 5.6 seconds remaining. Brooklyn would miss a Jarrett Jack jumper with just 1.6 seconds to play and be forced to inbound the ball under the Warriors hoop. On the ensuing inbound, Brook Lopez would meet the ball above the rim and miss an easy, uncontested lay in that he would hit 99/100 times. The game went into overtime where the Warriors would dominate, winning the frame 10-2 and ultimately the game 107-99.
14 Looked Untouchable: vs. Memphis Grizzlies (11/02/15)
Just four games into the season, Golden State stood at a perfect 4-0, winning these first four games by an average margin of 25 points and capping it off with am 119-69 waxing of the Memphis Grizzlies. Even Zach Randolph could figure out that math - 50 points! This marked the worst loss in the history of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise and the third largest victory in the history of Golden State.
Believe it or not, the Grizzlies would take a 22-21 lead after the first quarter of play and didn't look half bad. They would then proceed to be outscored 72-27 throughout the second and third quarters of play and would watch Golden State put up a 40 point third quarter. To put this shellacking further into perspective, Steph Curry would end the night with 30 points on 10/16 shooting. Memphis' entire starting lineup of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, and Courtney Lee would combine for just 33 points on 11/46 shooting.
13 Should Have Lost: vs. Toronto Raptors (11/17/15)
The Raptors made their only visit to Oracle Arena in mid-November and should have come away with a victory against the undefeated Warriors. Golden State headed into this game at 11-0 and were just coming off of the aforementioned Brooklyn scare, so this could have been back-to-back losses for the Warriors - something that they did not endure all season long. The final score ended Golden State 115, Toronto 110, and thanks to some chicken scratch free-throws late in the game, the score does not justify the final moments.
After being down 63-47 at halftime, the Raptors showed no quit and took the third quarter by nine points, setting up an intense final frame. The Raptors would be led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry's respective 28 point performances, and after playing lights out in the second half, would have a chance at the last shot of the game. With all the momentum going their way and the energy more tense than ever inside of Oracle Arena, the Raptors would bring the ball up court for the final possession and with 15 seconds left, Warriors up 109-108, Kyle Lowry would be called for a tough offensive foul, giving the Warriors the ball and effectively the game. It was a tough way to lose, as it seemed as though the Raptors with all of their momentum, were certain that they would win the game.
12 Looked Untouchable: vs. Los Angeles Lakers (11/24/15)
One's first thought would probably be "but it's the Lakers...who didn't blow out the Lakers?" You're right, but you also must remember that the Lakers did hand the Warriors one of their nine losses last season and, thus, this game more than qualifies. The Warriors would completely undress the inferior Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 111-77 and would go up 30-11 after just the first quarter.
Once again, Stephen Curry would play his typical routine of 30 minutes through the first three quarters and then proceed to sit and watch his team close out the game from the bench. As anticlimactic as the game turned out to be, the Warriors would come into the game a perfect 15-0 and this win would add another layer to their long list of "holy crap, how on earth did they do that?" accomplishments, as at 16-0 they would set the record for the greatest start to a season in NBA history.
11 Should Have Lost: @ Los Angeles Clippers (11/19/15)
If you have been keeping up with the dates, you may notice that not just two, but now three games in a row should have been losses for the Warriors early on in the season. If this were the case, 73-9 probably would never have entered the conversation and this is why we find this stuff absolutely fascinating. Anyway, on November 19th at the Staples Center, the Warriors should have lost. Lucky for them, they were facing off against the imploding LA Clippers.
The Clippers, led by Chris Paul's team high 35 points on the night, would explode out of the gate at the Staples Center in LA and finish the first quarter up 41-25, seemingly in control of the game. The Clippers would go up by as many as 23 in the second quarter and would take this lead into the second half, where they would lead by double digits almost the entire rest of the way. With five minutes left, the Clippers found themselves up ten points but these ten points felt like just three or four as Golden State had gotten back into the game as quickly as a Steph Curry jump shot and thus, tensions were high. The Clippers would only score five points in the final six minutes of the game, crumbling in classic Clipper fashion and losing the fourth quarter 39-26 and the game 124-117.
10 Looked Untouchable: @ Cleveland Cavaliers (01/18/16)
After a hideous display of basketball on Christmas day that saw the Warriors defeat the Cavaliers in Golden State 89-83, the REAL rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals would take place on this day in Cleveland. It is incredibly ironic to think in retrospect that when the final horn went at the end of this game, the entire basketball community immediately confirmed what they thought to be true - the Cavaliers had no chance at beating the Warriors in the NBA Finals. The Cavs, as we know would get their just desserts come June, but on this night, it was all Golden State
One of the most anticipated regular season games of the year was a total washout. In a 132-98 routing of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors would improve their record to 38-4, just past the half way point of the regular season. The Warriors were coming off of a loss two nights earlier in Detroit, and looked to restore their sense of urgency. They would hold LeBron to just 16 points and only allowed him to get to the free throw line once. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would combine for 50 points and Andre Iguodala would chip in another 20, on their way to an easy victory and, yet again, another very underwhelming match up for NBA fans.
9 Should Have Lost: @Utah Jazz (11/30/15 and 03/30/16)
Okay so we broke the rules a little bit, we're sorry. We figured, however, that we may as well string these two games together seeing as they consisted of the same two teams, in the same building with very similar outcomes. The Jazz would have the Warriors by the basketballs in two separate fourth quarters at home, but could not close the game out in either. The first game in November saw the Jazz up a bucket for virtually the entire final eight minutes, as they would find an answer every time the Warriors would hit a big shot. With the Jazz down a point in the final 30 seconds, Rodney Hood would miss two chances to take the lead, including one with just five second left. The Warriors would go up 106-103 and Gordon Haywood would miss yet another shot to force the tie at the buzzer- Warriors win.
The Warriors would find themselves back in a nail biter in Utah just a few months later in March. The Jazz would be up by as many as eight points with under eight minutes to play in the game and were up three with just 24 seconds left to play. Klay Thompson would miss a three-pointer on the Warriors final possession, but Shawn Livingston would take advantage of a burnt out Utah defense, sweeping up the rebound and immediately kicking it out to Thompson for three once again and, this time, splash, giving us a tie game. Just like in November, the Jazz would get the last shot and after Rodney Hood was blocked by Draymond with just three seconds to play, Gordon Hayward would get another chance to give Utah the victory, but would miss the easy jimmy with just a second left on the clock. The Warriors would outscore the Jazz 14-7 in overtime and subsequently win the game 103-96.
8 Looked Untouchable: @ Chicago Bulls (01/20/16)
The Bulls fell apart quickly this season, but around this time they were still near the top of the Eastern Conference and playing decent basketball. The Warriors would jump out to a quick 34-18 lead after the first quarter of play and never really looked back. They would go up by as many as 33 points, silencing one of the more hostile buildings to play in.
The Bulls got dominated in every aspect on route to the 125-94 blowout on their home court. They would shoot a measly 37% from the field as a team and an absolutely atrocious 5% (1/20) from three-point range. If you think you can show up and shoot 5% from three and even have a remote chance against the greatest shooting team of all-time, best of luck to you. Yet again, the Golden State Warriors regular season dominance would undermine what was supposed to be an excellent and competitive game.
7 Should Have Lost: @ Boston Celtics (12/11/15)
With their perfect record still in tact at 23-0, the Golden State Warriors would head into yet another hostile environment at the TD Garden in Boston for a date with the Celtics. With a win, the Warriors would move past the 2012-13 Miami Heat with their 28th regular season win dating back to the previous season - good for the second longest winning streak of all time behind only the '72 Lakers. Yet again, they shouldn't have won this game, but when you're as great as the Warriors are, good fortune often follows you around.
The game would go into double overtime and the end of every frame was like re-watching the same bad movie over and over again. Isaiah Thomas had an excellent season and he should have won this game for the Celtics on multiple occasions. Thomas tied the game up for the Celtics with a series of drives to the basket late in the fourth quarter, but when it came to the final seconds of the game, opted to try and drain the step-back three ball over the much longer and taller Shawn Livingston, resulting in an easy block for the Warriors defender. Kelly Olynyk would also get a shot at the buzzer, but would airmail the long attempt. The final shot for the Celtics in the first overtime would be very similar, as with the game tied, Thomas would stumble on a last second attempt to attack the basket and turn the ball over. Come the second overtime, the game had gotten away from the Celtics and despite Klay Thompson not playing on this night, the Warriors would roll to the 124-119 double OT win. The Celtics should have just put Isaiah on Amir Johnson's shoulders. Oh well, there's always next game.
6 Looked Untouchable: vs. San Antonio Spurs (01/25/16)
After blowing out the Cavaliers a week prior, the NBA shifted its attention to January 25th, where the two teams with a combined 78-10 record would finally face off for the first time of the season. The Spurs entered the game with historically jaw-dropping defensive numbers and many thought that they would provide the solution to containing Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. If any team was going to do it, it was Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. It didn't happen and things got out of hand real fast.
The Warriors would go into halftime up 62-47 and most viewers probably were hoping to see the Spurs come out strong in the third quarter and make a game out of it. They didn't and would lose the third quarter 33-19, marking their worst 12 minutes of the game and putting the Warriors up 99-66 after three quarters of play. Curry, Thompson and Green would get to sit and watch the fourth quarter from the bench and, at this point, it seemed as though the NBA needed to open up a new league on a new planet for the Warriors to play in, as even the second best team in the world got absolutely waxed by the 2015 NBA champions. Final score Golden State 120, San Antonio 90.
5 Should Have Lost: vs. Denver Nuggets (01/02/16)
The Nuggets would hand the Warriors their fourth loss of the season at home just 11 days after this game, but should have beaten the Warriors the first time around on January 2nd. It took Draymond Green's biggest performance of the season in which he totaled 29 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists, four steals, and a block to stomp out the pesky Denver Nuggets ,as Steph Curry would only play 14 minutes due to reaggravating his left leg early on in the game.
Danillo Gallinari would lead the way for the Nuggets with a team high 24 points in 41 minutes of action, while The Manimal, Kenneth Farried, devoured the Warriors on the glass and caused them tremendous difficulty in the paint all night, collecting 12 boards - nine of them being offensive. With the Warriors up later in the game, the Nuggets would go on a surge in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Warriors 25-12 down the stretch and tying the game on a Will Barton lay-up with just 0.9 seconds remaining. Farried, who had been dominating the Warriors all game long, would conveniently for them, go down near the end of overtime, making the game easier to close out for the Warriors. The Warriors would sneak away with a 111-108 win, thanks to a game winning layup by Klay Thomspon with just 15 seconds remaining.
4 Looked Untouchable: vs. New York Knicks (03/16/16)
After embarrassing the New York Knicks by 21 points at Madison Square Garden in January, the Warriors were not finished with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks and let them know it upon their arrival to Oracle Arena. This game took a similar form to the blowout in San Antonio, as the Warriors went up 62-46 at halftime and proceeded to dominate in the third quarter, outscoring the Knicks 35-18.
Curry, Klay, and Draymond would all play less than 30 minutes, as that's all the Warriors would need from them. Rookie of the Year runner up Kristaps Porzingis looked absolutely out of sorts against the fast running, three point shooting Golden State Warriors, as he finished just 1/11 from the field with two measly points in 26 minutes of action. Carmelo Anthony would score just 18 points in 30 minutes. To put the Warriors total team domination into perspective, off the bench, Mo Speights poured in 13 points in literally half of the amount of time - just 15 minutes of action. Final score Golden State 121, New York 85.
3 Should Have Lost: @ Oklahoma City Thunder (02/27/16)
If you don't recall this game immediately after reading the title, I'll give you a few seconds. If you guessed that Draymond Green hit someone below the belt, good guess, but this game in fact gave birth to one of Steph Curry's most signature career moments - the half court game winning shot. The Warriors honestly had no business winning this game, but when you have the greatest shooter of all time playing on your team, winning is never out of the question.
If Curry didn't have the game of the season, this game would have been a blowout. Steph dropped 46 against the Thunder, including a 12/16 effort from three point range. If the shot were not impressive enough, Steph Curry's game winning three ball (12th of the game) tied the NBA record for most three-pointers hit in a game. Klay Thompson would also chip in for 32, meaning that The Splash Brothers combined for an incredible 78 of the Warriors 121 points on the night. If you recall, this game had no business going into overtime in the first place, as OKC had a four point lead with just 14 seconds left. After Klay Thompson hit a layup to bring the Warriors within two, an incredibly wild sequence took place. On the ensuing inbound, the Thunder melted down and forgot to call a timeout when they got in trouble, causing Durant to recklessly heave the ball to mid court, where it would be caught and juggled by about four different players, before ending up in the hands of Andre Iguodala, who would miss the game tying shot, but be fouled in the process, sending him to the free throw line to tie the game with no time left on the clock. Iggy hit them both, leading to a thrilling overtime frame that was capped off by Curry's aforementioned circus shot at the buzzer. Warriors win 121-118...somehow.
2 Looked Untouchable: vs. Portland Trail Blazers (04/03/16)
Damian Lillard showed Steph Curry back in February that being snubbed of an All-Star spot didn't mean he was inferior to anyone, when he dropped 51 points in a Portland victory over the Warriors. This time around, the Warriors could see their 73rd win at the end of the tunnel as they sat at 68-8 heading in and were hungry for another victory. Coming off of their first regular season loss at home in a year and a half at the hands of the Boston Celtics, many were worried about the Warriors and the state of their quest for 73 wins heading into this game.
Defense clearly was not of much importance in this game as the final score ended Warriors 136-111. That being said, it wasn't all that close, as despite a competitive first quarter that saw the Trail Blazers up six points at its conclusion, Golden State would score 31 or more points in every single quarter, on their way to a 25 point victory. Steph Curry would put on yet another show, dropping 9/12 three pointers and scoring 39 points on the night, one better than Damian Lillard's 38.
1 Should Have Lost: vs. Atlanta Hawks (03/01/16)
At 33-28, the Atlanta Hawks sat near the top of a fairly balanced Eastern Conference and the Warriors knew they were in for a battle. The Warriors would be without superstar Stephen Curry on this night, as well as 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, setting the odds slightly in favor of the soundly fundamental Atlanta Hawks. Without Curry and Iggy in the lineup, the Warriors would need monster nights from Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to pull out the victory and they didn't get it, but they still won.
Although Thompson finished the night with a game high 26 points, his shooting was well off as he shot just 29% from the floor. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green combined for an atrocious 14/42 shooting from the floor and if it were not for Thompson's six three pointers (on 16 attempts) the Warriors would have stood no chance. The game was neck and neck down the stretch and the Hawks even held the lead with a minute left in the fourth quarter and in overtime. However, with no Curry, no Iguodala, and Draymond and Thompson unable to hit anything, the Warriors were still somehow able to pull this game out and we still can't figure out how. Probably because they are the greatest regular season team of all time. Yep, that's why.