When Steve Kerr says the Warriors are tired, he's not just referring to the demands of the team's schedule. He can't be, not when the Warriors are such a deep team and also the last in the NBA to play its 50th game.
No, the coach has to be referring to the mental and physical challenges that come with spending most of the season in rarified air as the league's best team.
The Warriors have never known this level of success. Their 41-9 record is the best start in franchise history. Unprecedented success leads to unprecedented scrutiny, which leads to unprecedented demands, which raises stress levels all around.
And the fallout was evident once again Monday night in Philadelphia. In squeezing out an 89-84 victory over the hopelessly inadequate 76ers, the Warriors often looked to be in serious need of recharging.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sluggish Warriors escape Philly with win]
Just as they looked two days earlier in outlasting the calamitous Knicks in New York.
The All-Star Break can't come soon enough for the Warriors.
"Right now it just feels like we're running on fumes, so I'm actually really proud of the guys for pulling that win out," Kerr said.
"We've flown 6,000 miles in four days, so we're kind of tired," backup big man Marreese Speights said. "But this is the NBA. This is what happens. You've just got to get the last couple games out before the break. The break will refresh everybody."
That's the idea. One more game, at Minnesota on Wednesday, and the Warriors (41-9) hit the break, which begins Thursday and lasts until Feb. 20. At that point, the Warriors can regroup for the final 31 games of the season.
There is, however, a standard they wish to set. And they did not meet it Monday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The Warriors were outshot (41.8 to 40 percent) by Philly, which has the lowest field-goal percentage in the league. The 76ers grabbed more rebounds (42-34) and made more hustle plays. They looked like the quicker team.
But the Warriors, with a vastly superior roster, prevailed. It was a triumph of synergy over energy, of simply being deeper and more talented than the opponent.
"It just doesn't feel like we're playing our best," said Stephen Curry, who scored a team-high 20 points. "That's the frustrating part about it. But we'll figure it out. We've got one more game before the break. We want to win that any way we can, get some rest and come back recharged after the All-Star Break."
The Warriors, slipping past the two worst teams in the NBA, are at that point. They just want to push through one more game, get a win and unwind for a few days.
"You get to this stage of the season and everybody's grinding, everybody's tired and the All-Star break is right around the corner," Kerr said. "Every team goes through it, so it's not an excuse. It's just the way it is. The fact that we've been able to continue to win games during this stretch is a testament to our competitiveness and toughness."
The bench rescued the starters in this one. Andre Iguodala (13 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists) and Leandro Barbosa (16 points, six rebounds and two assists) were particularly effective.
Andrew Bogut loomed large on defense, certainly in the second half, when blocked two shots and altered a couple others.
Power forward Draymond Green limped off in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle. X-rays were negative, but he did not return.
[RELATED: Green sprains ankle in win over 76ers]
The Splash Brothers were mostly dry, as Klay Thompson (4-of-14) and Curry (7-of-20) combined for 11-of-34 shooting, 4-of-18 beyond the arc.
The Warriors are battling the schedule – five games in seven nights, on opposite coasts – more than their opponents, and it shows. A lot of shots but Curry and Thompson are glancing off the front of the hoop. Their bench was, for the second consecutive game, absolutely essential to victory. It takes a full roster to build the best record in the league, and the Warriors are showing that.