Chasing History: Golden State’s Remaining Schedule

The Warriors can set the NBA record for most wins through 51 games when they host the Rockets Tuesday night. A victory against Houston will have the Warriors at 47–4 and one game ahead of the pace of both the 1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1995–96 Chicago Bulls that finished 72–10.

How hard will it be for the Warriors to eclipse those Bulls for the best record in regular season history? To help take a deeper dive at Golden State’s challenges ahead, my old friend and colleague Alejandro Altaras and I created the following visualization of the Warriors remaining schedule. It is inspired by @CapitalsHill great illustration of the Blue Jackets season in the NHL this year.

The image reveals a number of insights about the Warriors schedule:

  • Two of the Warriors three remaining games against the Spurs are road games on the second night of a back-to-back. San Antonio will not have played the night prior to either of those games. The games are scheduled for Saturday March 19th and Sunday April 10th. If the Spurs play their full lineup both games, the games figure to be the Warriors’ biggest challenge this season on paper.
  • Golden State’s next game against the Clippers on Saturday February 20th presents a similar schedule challenge. The Warriors play at Portland on Friday evening before flying to Los Angeles for a game the next day. Saturday’s game is in primetime on the East Coast, meaning the Clippers game tips off just 22.5 hours after the Portland game. Again, the Clippers will not have played the night before.
  • The Warriors have three other games on the road on the second night of a back-to-back: Utah, Orlando, and Phoenix. It’s worth keeping an eye on those games as potential schedule losses.
  • Even though the Warriors have played 61% of the season (50 of 82 games), they’ve only played 47% of their games against the current top 4 teams in each conference (9 of 19). Their schedule will get harder with 3 games remaining against San Antonio, 2 against Oklahoma City, the Clippers and Atlanta, and an additional game against Boston.
  • The Warriors are currently 9–0 against the top 4 seeds in each conference and 12–0 against the top 5 seeds. The best team Golden State has lost to is the 6th seeded Dallas Mavericks in a game Stephen Curry sat out due to a bruised lower left leg.

While the Warriors are currently on track to break the record, their challenge is still daunting. Maintaining their health will certainly be a key: of the Bulls’ top 6 players by minutes Dennis Rodman was the only one to appear in less than 77 games and he played in 64. However, as I noted yesterday Golden State could lose all their remaining games to the Spurs and Thunder and still finish 73–9 by sweeping the rest of the league. The Warriors have a margin for error as they chase history, but perhaps the most amazing thing about their season is how slight that margin is.