Warriors Clinch Playoff Berth Faster Than Any Team in NBA History

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 27, 2016

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors goes to the basket against the Orlando Magic on February 25, 2016 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Fernando Medina/Getty Images

In their pursuit of shattering the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' single-season wins record, the Golden State Warriors made some history of their own Saturday night when they clinched a playoff berth faster than any other team in NBA history thanks to the San Antonio Spurs' 104-94 win over the Houston Rockets.  

The defending champions have scorched opponents all season with the league's most efficient offense and a top-flight defense led by a core consisting of reigning MVP Stephen Curry, shooting guard extraordinaire Klay Thompson and combo-forward Draymond Green, who serves as the personification of versatility. 

As he seeks to become the first player to capture back-to-back MVP awards since LeBron James during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, Curry has positively blitzed opponents to the tune of 30.4 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting an outrageous 51.3 percent from the field and 46.1 percent from three. 

Those numbers are staggering in a vacuum, but consider the fact that Curry is attempting a whopping 10.9 threes per game—exceeding Baron Davis' previous single-season record of 8.7 per game by 2.2. 

And while Curry has scorched the net from every conceivable angle and in manners that were previously unthinkable, Green has proved to be the driving force behind the small-ball revolution Golden State has facilitated across the NBA.

According to NBA.com's lineup data, the Warriors' renowned "lineup of death" consisting of Curry, Thompson, Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala has outscored opponents by 48.1 points per 100 possessions. 

"We feel comfortable with it and a lot of teams, they don’t play small lineups a lot, because a lot of teams in the NBA, they don’t play small," Barnes said, per Sports Illustrated's Jared Dubin. "We feel like when we can get a team to change their game to suit ours, it’s an advantage."

When opponents try to go small and run with the Warriors, things tend to go swimmingly for the defending champions. Golden State's synergy on both ends of the floor is currently unmatched across the Association, and going small allows it to switch on defense at all five positions. 

Factor in the Warriors' ability to turn defense into offense in the blink of an eye thanks to that flexibility, and there's seemingly no easy route to containing the club's bevy of playmakers. 

With a tried-and-true formula that can only be imitated—not replicatedthe Warriors are in position to keep their historic journey moving at a rapid pace now that they've scratched their name into the record books once more. 


Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com unless noted otherwise.