“No rest for the wicked” is a phrase originating from the old testament’s Book of Isaiah.
It might as well be the Warriors new mantra.
Head coach Steve Kerr is wary about letting his starters play while the team has locked up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, but has also made a pact with his players that each guy gets to choose to play or not.
After beating San Antonio and reaching 70 wins Thursday night — to seal the top spot in the West — Stephen Curry walked into the media room with a loud and clear message for everyone: He wants the record.
“70 wins and 3 games to go? There’s obviously a lot to play for.”
That’s the general sentiment from all of the Warriors starters, and the bench has been pretty well rested. Andre Iguodala returned from a left ankle sprain early in the week, and Shawn Livingston took a night off just one week ago.
Festus Ezeli, like Iguodala, rode the bench for an extended period with an injury. The team isn’t 100 percent. No team is, says Draymond Green. But that’s not the issue. The goal has shifted from locking up a one seed to making history, Green said:
“I actually texted our group chat yesterday, and said a bunch. Like ‘if you a rest and you think you need a rest, I understand.’ Just because I didn’t want guys to feel like, because I’ve said this so many times, even before coach Kerr wanted me to, that I wanted the record. In media, in practice, whatever. I didn’t want guys to necessarily need rest, but to feel pressure from me like somebody is going to look at them sideways if they thought they need a rest.”
That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t appear that anyone wants to go that route. Green continued:
“I told guys in the chat, ‘if you need a rest, take the rest. And if you don’t, we going after it.”
“It,” of course, is 73 wins. Which would be the most ever by an NBA team during the regular season.
The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls — a team Kerr was a major bench asset on — won 72 games en route to an NBA title. And Kerr knows something about not taking rest, he played four consecutive seasons without missing a game.
From 1993 to 1997, Kerr was available and ready, never averaging fewer than 20 minutes per game in any of those seasons. That may have something to do with it. Not to mention the competitive nature that drips from Kerr’s coattails, as if the Warriors needed any extra.
“Personally, for me, I want to finish out these last three game. I pride myself on playing every game. I’m still young in my career, I’m only 26. When I’m 36 I’ll be looking to rest more. Came this far, might as well get 80 games in.”
Harrison Barnes, too, cited his age — a mature 23 years old — as one reason that he doesn’t plan on riding the bench for the remainder of the season:
“Everybody knows that Bulls team, going 72-and-10. Just getting to 70. I remember a time where we celebrated, poured water on each other, because we won 51 games. We thought that was the mountain top. And last year we won 67. And we were like ‘wow.’ What would have happened if we had just tweaked a few things here and there. We could’ve gotten to 70. What about 72?’ And here we have an opportunity to do it.”
Kerr has held a soft tone through most of the season, with all the hype, about the possibility of this squad making history. He had eschewed mentioning it, or delving into details. That seems like a long time ago now.
Golden State has a banged-up Memphis team to deal with on the road Saturday before facing the Spurs in San Antonio the very next evening.
No doubt, a back-to-back is tough to get through successfully. But against San Antonio, in their building, it’s almost a David and Goliath tale. It’s just not certain who is David, and who is Goliath.
If the Warriors did win, that would be the only time the Spurs have lost at home this season. And Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich maintains he will play his starters.
But after that, the Warriors host the Grizzlies Wednesday night for their regular season finale. In their building. With the electricity of their fans behind them.
Which just adds to the fuel. Why rest if we’re truly wicked?