As uncomfortable as the process may be Thursday night, the Warriors are just 24 minutes away from setting an all-time NBA record.
Golden State currently shares a historical mark with the forgettable 1985-86 Los Angeles Clippers, a collection of has-beens and underachievers who won just 32 games that season. In this case, being associated with the then-laughingstocks of the league isn’t such a bad thing.
All the Warriors need to do to separate themselves from those Clippers, and make their own history, is to follow a familiar script when they host Memphis at Chase Center Thursday: Struggle early and finish strong.
The Warriors are unbeaten (4-0) even though they’ve trailed at halftime in all four of their games, just like those old Clippers. No team in the 75-year history of the NBA has ever won its first five games after entering halftime trailing.
The Warriors are 4-0 this season despite trailing at the half in all four games.
They join the 1985-86 Clippers as the only teams in NBA history to open a season 4-0 despite trailing at the half in each of those games. pic.twitter.com/GJB4X1aCbv
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2021
It will be most important that the Warriors don’t keep following in the footsteps of the ’85-86 Clippers, who went on to lose eight straight games and 12 of 13 after their peculiar 4-0 start.
On Tuesday in Oklahoma City, Golden State tied the Clippers’ record of rallying for victories in their first four games. The Warriors validated coach Steve Kerr’s pre-game fears by getting severely outplayed by the winless Thunder, and falling behind by 11 points at halftime, 59-48.
“We talked to the team in our meeting (Tuesday) at the hotel about exactly what to expect,” Kerr said, after the Warriors rallied in the second half for a 106-98 win. “This is a team that came in 0-3 … they’re NBA players. They’re all great players or they wouldn’t be in the league.”
Instead, it was simply a continuance of a trend that’s made the Warriors the second-easiest team in the NBA to score on during the first half – they’ve allowed 61.8 points before halftime, still 2 ½ points fewer than Charlotte.
Scoring early hasn’t been an issue for the Warriors, whose 33.5 points per game in the first quarter is the best in the league. They’ve just had trouble stopping their opponents from scoring early – they’ve given up 31.5 points per game in the first quarter, fourth-most in the NBA.
The Warriors’ early woes can also be blamed on their rough play during second quarters, usually when their second unit gets its first real run. Golden State has been the league’s worst team so far in the second quarter – they’ve been outscored by a league-worst 7.0 points, so far.
Still, it’s important to remind ourselves this is an unbeaten team we’re talking about. And, the first-half troubles obviously haven’t been too much for the Warriors to overcome – their first-half scoring margin of minus-5.0 is still better than five other teams.
By keeping games relatively close in the opening half, the Warriors have been able to distance themselves from teams in the second half. As concerning as the first-half numbers thus far may be, the Warriors have shown a knack for delivering down the stretch – they’ve been the best fourth-quarter team in the league (+6.8-point scoring margin) and the second-best team after halftime (+12.2-point margin).
Ultimately, the only number the Warriors should be concerned with Thursday night is five, and whether that will be their win total after the game.
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Author: Jon Becker