After the Warriors summarily dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day (and then blew them to kingdom come earlier this year), Monday night’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs was billed as their final challenge. Going in, both teams were historically great—the Spurs’s defense is otherworldly and both teams are transcendent on both ends of the floor. The Warriors were the more lauded team, but the Spurs had a better point differential. Both teams were on pace to match the 95-96 Chicago Bulls 72-10 record.
Last night, the Warriors first, second, and third units lit up the Spurs, controlling the game from the jump ball and maintaining a 30-point lead for most of the second half. Steph Curry absolutely destroyed Tony Parker; Kawhi Leonard, the league’s best on ball defender, was similarly helpless. Like everyone else in the NBA, the Spurs were unable to solve, let alone stop, Curry. They seemed human, a rarity in Gregg Popovich’s tenure as coach. (Even Boban “Kristaps Porzingis if Dr. Frankenstein got hold of him” Marjanović seemed human, but only barely.)
Of course, Tim Duncan, a key to the Spurs’s suffocating defense, sat out. But the Warriors were exponentially better last night, leaping their last major hurdle with ease. With 37 games left in the season and a 41-4 record, the Warriors biggest test now is abstract: can they maintain the focus necessary to win 72 (or more!) games?