Editor’s note: Games 2 and 3 (and 5, 6 and 7 if necessary) of Warriors-Clippers will air on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Bookmark this page for comprehensive coverage of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
OAKLAND – The Warriors reached the 50-win mark for the first time in 20 years and surpassed it for the first time in 22.
They were the only Western Conference team to sweep road games against the defending champs and their toughest challengers in the Eastern Conference.
They finished third in defensive rating, sent a starter to the All-Star Game for the first time in 19 years, posted back-to-back 45-win seasons for the first time in 37 and were perfect at home against Pacific Division competition for the first time in forever.
Meanwhile, the Warriors had 10 consecutive wins, seven epic comebacks, six buzzer-beaters and lost more than two consecutive games only once all season.
And, still, the masses can't decide whether the Warriors underachieved or overachieved.
Actually, they did neither.
The Warriors' 51-31 regular season is a practically perfect reflection of who they are, what they have and, more important, what they don't have.
Coach Mark Jackson, in his third season, still faces a learning curve. All-Star point guard Stephen Curry still is getting comfortable with the demands of running a team on a nightly basis. Centers Andrew Bogut, Jermaine O'Neal and Festus Ezeli missed a variety of games for an array of reasons related to health or age or both. New small forward Andre Iguodala's age seemed to vacillate from 24 to 36, depending on his knees and the night. Power forward David Lee once again offset his positive offense with his negative defense and the bench was, for most of the season, Draymond Green and his arrhythmic backup band, Cover Your Eyes.
The Warriors are not the Spurs – but neither is anybody else.
They are not the Thunder because they don't have a Kevin Durant, not the Heat because they don't have a LeBron James, not the Rockets or the Blazers because they don't have two All-Stars on the roster. They are not the Pacers because they don’t have four All-Star candidates in the starting lineup.
They are not, for that matter, the Clippers, who have at least two players whose names will appear on All-Star ballots and a third who led the NBA in rebounding and has put himself in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
No, the Warriors are, as any good scout will tell you, a talented but flawed team with a coach who mixes classic thinking with unorthodox methods and is steadfastly tethered to his principles – no matter the opinions being tossed about about outside the locker room.
The Warriors invite the underachiever rap by losing at home to the likes of Charlotte and Denver and Cleveland and Washington. It's not accurate rap but there's enough evidence to build it's a case for guilt.
They also invite the overachiever label when they win at Miami, at Indiana, twice at Dallas and roll four playoff teams during a 10-game win streak accomplished mostly on the road. It's not accurate, but there is too much evidence to outright dismiss.
Reasonable preseason projections had the Warriors winning between 48 and 53 games, always with health being one of the conditions. Well, Iguodala missed 19 games, Bogut missed 15 and Lee missed 13. O'Neal, if you're interested, missed 38.
So health was an issue with Jackson's rotations. More of an issue, I'd say, than the losing two assistant coaches in the final month of the season.
The Warriors won 51 games. That's about right, even if the byzantine path they took left them open to broader interpretation than spicy foods or rap music.