After a few weeks of shaky basketball and shakier odds of reaching the milestone, the Golden State Warriors throttled the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104 Wednesday night to finish the season 73-9, breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record for wins in a regular season. As usual, the Warriors did it in style.
On a night when Golden State was sharing the marquee with Kobe Bryant’s white-knuckled farewell massacre (Bryant had 60 points, making him the second-oldest player to reach 50 in a game, the oldest to hit 60, and the only (future) Hall of Famer to score more than 30 in his final game; his 50 field-goal attempts were a record in all games dating to 1983-84), the Warriors put on the better show through three quarters. Stephen Curry had 46 points in 30 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter. He had 20 in the first, including this foolishness from just past the logo:
Curry hits one from just inside the logo
The final win closes out a stretch run in which the Warriors looked unusually vulnerable, losing two of three early in April and sweating out a few more close games. Below is a chart of how the Warriors’ odds of reaching 73 wins looked throughout the season (though, as we’ve explained, end-of-season projections get a little squirrely because there are fewer games remaining and because of the nature of probability-based modeling):
Curry’s 10 3-pointers in the season finale put him at 402 for the year, just a hair above the rough projection of 400. The previous record was 286, which Curry set last season. Lost in the commotion of Curry’s preposterous record is another startling record: Klay Thompson had 276 threes this season, seven more than Ray Allen’s 269 in 2005-06, which makes him the single-season leader among players who aren’t Steph Curry. As a team, the Warriors set a record for most threes made in a season (1,077) but not the record for most taken; Houston set both last season, and Golden State needed 88 fewer attempts to make 144 more shots from deep.
Curry’s shooting percentages this season — 50.4 percent from the field, 45.4 percent from three, 90.8 percent from the line — make him only the third player to complete a 50-45-90 season while playing significant minutes, along with Steve Nash in 2007-08 and Steve Kerr in 1995-96, though Curry took far more shots than either.
Listen to our sports podcast, Hot Takedown, discuss the Warriors’ record-setting season.
The magnitude of the Warriors’ season makes other records inevitable. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Golden State set records for the most road wins (34), the best start to a season (24-0), the best record against top-10 teams (21-2) and the longest home winning streak across seasons (54 games, including 2014-15). They were also the only team ever to finish a season without losing two games in a row and without losing to the same opponent twice (the 1995-96 Bulls dropped two to Indiana). Surely there are other, more minor records lying around waiting to be noticed, but the most improbable is finished: The Warriors have won more regular-season games than any other NBA team in history. Now it’s on to the playoffs, where that hardly matters at all.
Check out our latest NBA predictions.
CORRECTION (April 15, 5:27 p.m.): An earlier version of the chart in this post misrepresented the Warriors’ position on the vertical axis throughout the season, making it slightly lower than it should have been. For example, the team’s odds of winning 73 games at the beginning of the season were 0.0261, or 2.6 percent — not zero. The chart has been corrected.