I'm a big believer that the games early on matter. You want to build a championship season? It starts in October and runs through June. The 2011 Mavericks looked like world beaters in November, coasted quietly through the season, and took the title. So it's tempting to raise your eye at the Warriors' 20-2 start and ask yourself if this team could really just run its way as the best team to the title.
But calls for patience and noting how long a season it is are very meaningful. The Portland Trail Blazers were 20-4 at this time last year, a ridiculous mark that included impressive wins vs. the top teams. And the Indiana Pacers were 20-3. Neither made the Finals.
There is a different feel to this Warriors team, however. The Pacers were beating up the Eastern Conference, and there still were questions about whether their offense was legit. The Blazers' defense never was good (it's actually much improved this year; they're a better team this year which is why they're No. 6). They were exposed as the year ran on. But the Warriors? They actually are very good at both ends.
The problem is what can happen between now and May. You must maintain such a tight edge, walk the line between pacing yourself and keeping sharp. It's why the Spurs are so good at finding wins in the margin, and keeping themselves fresh at the same time. Oh, and you have to stay healthy.
Is this Golden State's season? They've met every challenge in answering that question "yes" so far, which counts for a lot. They are on the list of championship contenders.