CLEVELAND -- The Golden State Warriors are , again, against the Cleveland Cavaliers. And again, as a reminder, if it were not for that pesky three-game stretch last June, Golden State would be pursuing its third straight title, after notching a record 73 win and winning the 2014-15 title. But of course, that didn't happen. The Warriors blew the 3-1 lead, and now these Finals are about revenge and redemption for a team that played Icarus last season.
They tried to fly too close to the sun, and were burnt to cinder and ash.
When the Warriors went for that historic mark last year, they went for it. They talked about making it a priority. They zeroed in on it. They wanted that crack at history.
And now, Draymond Green says it was a mistake.
Green was asked Tuesday if, like they did with 73 wins, this Warriors team is "circling" going 16-0 in the playoffs, with just two more victories needed in the NBA Finals to secure their place as the first team to go undefeated through a full four-round, seven-game series slate.
"No, we made that mistake of circling 73 and worrying about the wrong thing before," Green said. "It don't matter."
For what it's worth, Stephen Curry didn't agree.
"In the moment you obviously want to -- that was a decision that we had talked about and we had discussed as a group and answered questions from the media pretty much from January on about that being a possibility," Curry said. "So I don't know if there may be have been a little bit of a mental fatigue when it comes to just how much it took to get that 73 done and then having to restart and go to the playoffs.
"But honestly I wouldn't regret those decisions at all. We were one game away from winning a championship, so I don't think you can second guess that that much."
It's an interesting question. As it was happening, many people said the Warriors were foolish to pursue that goal, given not just the physical but mental toll it takes, dealing with extra media, extra pressure, and the way teams would go at the Warriors at an even higher level, trying to stop history.
But on the other hand:
- Curry was injured throughout last year's playoffs, and the slippage that occurred which caused that injury was not related to fatigue but back sweat from Donatas Motiejunas.
- Andrew Bogut, a lower-minutes player, was out for the last few games of the Finals.
- Green was suspended for Game 5 of the Finals, an event which was not connected to that pursuit of 73 wins.
- The Cavaliers won by two possessions in Game 7.
So if any of that goes differently, and the Warriors win 73 games and then the title, they are unquestionably the greatest team of all time.
And yet, this team has a shot at 16-0, a mark that would equally make them legends, with it never having been done before. But the Warriors are done with that. If they go 16-0, great. They want the title. Green reflected that wisdom in his comments Tuesday. He clearly learned a lesson from last year.
"If we were able to do that, I don't think I'd say 'We were the only team to go 16-0,'" Green said. "I'd say 'We won the championship.'"
"[Going] 16-0 doesn't matter in any stretch of the imagination unless that's a closeout game," Curry said. "And that's the opportunity in front of us, because all it is is just winning a championship and doing what you need to do to get that done."