The Golden State Warriors have only three more games left before their historic regular season comes to a close. And by defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, the Warriors clinched the No. 1 seed in the West and have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, including the Finals -- a monumental advantage for the Warriors as they try to repeat as champions.
Winning another championship has been the main goal all season but they are also only three wins away from breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls record for single-season wins. This is a big dilemma for Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
He wants to rest some of his key players before the start of the playoffs so they can be healthy for another championship run in the postseason. But Kerr also knows his players want to break the record and that will become much harder if stars like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are rested.
Hoping to resolve this issue, Kerr told reporters Thursday that he will have a discussion with his team about rest. A conversation that Curry, Green and other Warriors players believe isn't worth having since they want to break the record.
From ESPN's Ethan Sherwood Strauss:
With the Golden State Warriors having wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, coach Steve Kerr said he is leaning toward resting his players but that the team will meet to discuss the issue.
“We are going to talk about it tomorrow,” Kerr said Thursday night after the Warriors’ 112-101 win over the San Antonio Spurs, their 70th victory of the season. “We’ve been putting it off for as long as we were able to, which was until we got the 1-seed. Now that we have that, I’m inclined to give some guys some rest if they need it, but I’ve sort of made a pact with the guys that if they are not banged up and they are not tired and if they want to go for this record or whatever then — so we got to talk.”
All-Star forward Draymond Green said he thinks most of his teammates are aiming for the wins record over rest.
“Think about the year we’ve had: started 24-0, haven’t lost two in a row all year, have had several streaks of seven-plus wins in a row, yet we’re still sitting here needing three in a row,” Green said. “That tells you how hard this is to do.
“So to get this far and kind of just tank it and say, ‘Aw, never mind.’ … Let’s face it, we probably will never get to this point again. That’s why it’s only been done one time. I think most guys in the locker room are all-in, and we’ll figure that out this weekend.”
All-Star guard Klay Thompson was direct about what his decision will be, telling ESPN, “I’m not going to rest.”
“I’m only 26. When I’m 36, I’ll be looking to rest more,” he later told the assembled media.
Forward Harrison Barnes echoed that sentiment, saying, “I’m 23, so I’ve got no problem playing the rest of these games, and we’ll go from there.”
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry said the Warriors aren’t finished yet.
“We wanted to take care of tonight and clinch home court for the playoffs, was a goal of ours,” Curry said. “With three games left and 73 still there, it’s obviously a lot to play for.”
With the Warriors so close to breaking the record, it is hard to see Kerr resting players for an entire game but could rest key players for longer stretches during the final three games.
This is probably the most likely scenario as it is a win-win for both Kerr and his players. Kerr can challenge the starters to build a large lead early in a game, which will then allow him to rest them once it turns into a blowout victory. That way the Warriors can still go after the record while also getting in some rest before the postseason starts.
Of course this is easier said than done, especially since Golden State has to play San Antonio one more time. But it is the best solution for Kerr and the Warriors with just three games left in the regular season.