Tuesday 24 October 2017 / 05:53 AM

WARRIORS MUST IGNORE RECORDS THIS SEASON

The spotlight of the 2016-17 season is without doubt going to shine brightest – and most unforgivingly – on the Golden State Warriors.

Last year was supposed to be the golden season for the Warriors, with a fairytale record-breaking campaign seemingly destined to end with a second straight championship – but coughing up a 3-1 Finals lead rarely ends up in the positive side of the NBA history books.

In the wild 2015-16 season, the Warriors did manage to claim the No.1 spot in the record books for most games won in a season, with a regular-season record of 73 wins and nine losses. Most predictions for the 2016 Finals that favored the Warriors winning put a heavy emphasis on their dominating season.

The logic is easy to follow: if the Warriors were able to beat every team multiple times consistently throughout the season, then why shouldn’t they be able to cruise their way to the trophy? Well, that question is best answered with another question – does having a speckless season record really matter?

This message isn’t so much directed towards the coaching staff or players, but more so to the experts that make their Finals predictions purely on win-loss season records. It’s best to clarify this by saying that a Championship team is obviously likely to have a high winning percentage throughout the season, but a high winning percentage throughout the season doesn’t guarantee a Championship.

Of the teams that finished with the best win-loss records in the past 10 seasons, seven teams advanced to win a Championship. This means that 30 percent of the teams that absolutely crushed it in the regular season over the last decade did not end up bringing home a Championship trophy.

Sure, grabbing that first seed position in your conference is useful, but when push comes to shove and the best teams meet in the Finals, the better team usually takes out the title. For most Championship-caliber teams, the season starts at the post-season.

The current betting line for the Warriors is set at 66.5 wins for the season. This means they could play with the same intensity as last year – remembering that Kevin Durant will also be on their roster but win six less games for someone to collect on that bet.

As an isolated bet it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but one of the contingencies is that the Warriors are going to try to win that many games during the regular season. I am not suggesting that the Warriors are going to not try at all, but it takes a lot of focus to consistently win for months on end. The Warriors’ charge towards the all-time season wins record became an overwhelming distraction for several months, and they learned their lesson by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the space of two weeks.

Chasing 73, or even 67 wins for that matter, convolutes a team’s focus. This is the perfect storm needed for an underdog team like the Cavaliers to swoop up in the Finals and take what really matters. The way teams win with such high records in the season is through consistency, but sometimes this consistency forms a habit that is difficult to break come playoff time. The playoffs is an entirely different mental and physical game, and if a team is used to playing at 80-90 percent all season, it becomes more difficult to ramp up to full capacity.

Another factor to consider from the Warriors is the butthurt from setting the best season record but blowing the Finals to an underdog.

The likelihood of the Warriors coaching staff or players really caring about setting another season record in the wake of the embarrassment of the 2016 Finals is pretty low. Luckily, basketball season is right around the corner and we will be able to see first-hand how much of the Warriors’ season is spent finding the right groove in preparation for the Finals, and how much is spent aiming at racking up a massive regular-season win tally.

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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