Doing the Impossible: Beating the Golden State Warriors

Doing the Impossible: Beating the Golden State Warriors
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It's not an impossible task, but it seems less and less likely. The Golden State Warriors are 18-0. Forget the fact that no NBA team has ever started a season so well . . . no sports team has ever started a season 18-0. Led by the baby-faced assassin, Stephen Curry, the heartbeat, Draymond Green, and Luke Walton (for now), the Warriors have played even better so far this year than they did in their NBA Championship season. How is this possible? Curry has become even better. Green has emerged from a role player to a star. The squad is even more mature and the criticism and "luck" comments they faced all offseason has made them hungrier to repeat.

The team hasn't lost a regular season game since April 7. They haven't lost a regular season home game since Jan. 27, and that was in overtime. The last time the Warriors lost a regular season home game in regulation was all the way back on Nov. 11, 2014.

So how exactly do you beat this team? The chances are, you probably can't. You have to hope that they struggle shooting the jumper, get frustrated on the defensive end, and you take advantage of the rare moments that they show a lack of composure. Steve Kerr has the team locked in and they seldom lose focus.

However, taking a look at the minimal amount of losses that they've had within the past year and a half, the Warriors have had most of them come on the road. They are still the best team in the league playing away from home, but outside of Curry, Green, the veteran Andre Iguodala, and sometimes Klay Thompson, the rest of the team doesn't do too well when they aren't at Oracle Arena.

Mo Speights struggles, Shaun Livingston doesn't play as well, Leandro Barbosa is one of the most hit or miss players in the league, and Festus Ezeli has been inconsistent. Harrison Barnes steps up when the team really, really needs him to but that also doesn't happen quite as often as they would like.

The Warriors had 15 regular season losses in 2014-15 to go along with their 67 wins. In six of those 15 losses, Golden State failed to score 100 points. Meaning in 9 of them, the other team had to score, score, and score some more to beat the high-powered offense of the Warriors.

In their 15 losses, the Warriors lost by 12, 13, 7, 10, 14, 12, 2, 10, 8, 6, 11, 2, 11, 15, and 3 points which comes out to about 9 points per loss. A few of them came with Curry or another major contributor out due to either injury or rest, but that's besides the point. The Warriors didn't shoot well in many of those contests, which led to them losing focus defensively. It happens to the best of teams.

When the Warriors miss their first few jumpers, they tend to get uneasy. When this occurs, teams happen to take advantage by slowing down the tempo and trying to get the Warriors out of their rhythm. Take a look at the Memphis series from the Western Conference Semi-Finals, for example. It's no secret that the Warriors are the better offensive team and that the Grizzlies cannot run with them whatsoever, but Memphis has been playing halfcourt basketball for years now. They slowed down the tempo against Golden State for the first few games of the series, causing the Warriors to lose a step in their transition game. They can play halfcourt as well as any team in the league, but they are so confident on the fastbreak that at times, playing a slow style bores them and they lose focus. In games where Golden State shot 20 free-throws or more, they lost a majority of them in the playoffs.

Surprisingly for such a great shooting team, the Warriors aren't the best free-throw shooting team. Outside of Curry and Thompson, the rest of the roster is average to below average. Barnes is average, but Ezeli, Iguodala, and Andrew Bogut are all awful free-throw shooters. Shaun Livingston isn't great either for a guard and Mo Speights doesn't have the mental strength to excel in such a mental part of the game.

The Warriors also made only six three-pointers in each of their two losses against the Grizzlies. Defending the best three-point shooting team that features the best shooter of all-time Steph Curry and another gunner in Klay Thompson would be ideal in stopping the Dubs.

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Warriors twice during the NBA Finals, but that was mainly due to the lack of experience on that stage and LeBron James being LeBron James. Draymond Green underperformed for the first half of the series, and the Warriors struggled because of it. Curry is the most valuable player on the team hands down, but Green is second. He is under-appreciated to the casual fan, but he really does do it all.

Green sets picks, has a playmaking role on the offense, hits three-pointers, rebounds, defends every position on the floor, and is the vocal leader of the team. If he is off his game and the opponent is able to get under his skin, much like Tristan Thompson did in the first few games of the NBA Finals, Golden State struggles.

With 18 games already won, the Warriors have matched the total wins the 76ers had in the 2014-15 season. Golden State could lose their next three games and will still be on pace for a 70-win season, which is simply remarkable. They begin a road trip out East after a game in Utah and that could be a potential threat to their record start. Games in Indiana and Toronto will be tough, but the Warriors continuously live up to the challenge and big stage.

I think their first loss of the season comes on the road, in the hands on of either the Jazz, Pacers, or Raptors within the next week or so. But the task of beating the Warriors just seems so unlikely. The won't go 82-0, but they will give the 1995-96 Bulls record a run for their money. I don't see how any team can beat them in a seven-game series as of yet.  The Golden State Warriors are by far the best team in basketball and might truly be the only ones who can beat the Warriors.