<span class="vcard">Dan Feldman</span>

SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 5: Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors on April 5, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Spurs (38-6) vs. Warriors (40-4) an unprecedented matchup of strength

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The Spurs and Warriors will make history when they meet tonight (10:30 ET on NBA TV).

Never have two teams with as high a combined winning percentage as San San Antonio (38-6) and Golden State (40-4) met this far into the season.

In fact, nobody has come close.

The difference between the combined winning percentage for this game and the second-ranking game – Celtics (34-12) vs. 76ers (46-4) in 1967 – is greater than the difference between No. 2 and No. 42.

Here are the 50 games with the highest combined win percentage this deep into a season (88 combined games):

Game Combined win percentage
Jan. 25, 2015: San Antonio Spurs (38-6) v. Golden State Warriors (40-4) 88.63%
Jan. 24, 1967: Boston Celtics (34-12) v. Philadelphia 76ers (46-4) 83.32%
Feb. 4, 1972: Los Angeles Lakers (44-7) v. Milwaukee Bucks (45-11) 83.17%
Jan. 28, 1981: Boston Celtics (42-9) v. Philadelphia 76ers (44-9) 82.68%
Feb. 6, 2015: Atlanta Hawks (41-9) v. Golden State Warriors (39-8) 82.46%
Apr. 7, 1996: Chicago Bulls (65-8) v. Orlando Magic (55-19) 81.62%
Feb. 5, 2009: Los Angeles Lakers (39-9) v. Boston Celtics (41-9) 81.62%
Feb. 25, 1996: Chicago Bulls (48-6) v. Orlando Magic (40-14) 81.47%
Feb. 4, 1981: Philadelphia 76ers (45-10) v. Boston Celtics (43-10) 81.47%
Feb. 8, 2009: Los Angeles Lakers (40-9) v. Cleveland Cavaliers (39-9) 81.43%
Mar. 1, 1972: Los Angeles Lakers (57-11) v. Milwaukee Bucks (55-15) 81.15%
Mar. 9, 1997: New York Knicks (46-16) v. Chicago Bulls (53-7) 81.14%
Jan. 30, 1985: Philadelphia 76ers (35-9) v. Boston Celtics (37-8) 80.89%
Feb. 5, 1997: Los Angeles Lakers (34-13) v. Chicago Bulls (42-5) 80.84%
Jan. 27, 1973: New York Knicks (40-12) v. Boston Celtics (40-7) 80.80%
Mar. 14, 2007: Phoenix Suns (49-14) v. Dallas Mavericks (52-10) 80.79%
Mar. 4, 1983: Boston Celtics (42-15) v. Philadelphia 76ers (50-7) 80.69%
Feb. 12, 1967: Boston Celtics (44-14) v. Philadelphia 76ers (52-9) 80.66%
Apr. 16, 1997: Miami Heat (59-20) v. Chicago Bulls (69-11) 80.49%
Mar. 17, 1972: Los Angeles Lakers (64-12) v. Milwaukee Bucks (59-18) 80.38%
Feb. 29, 2000: Los Angeles Lakers (45-11) v. Portland Trail Blazers (45-11) 80.35%
Jan. 28, 1973: New York Knicks (41-12) v. Boston Celtics (40-8) 80.19%
Mar. 8, 1967: Philadelphia 76ers (62-11) v. Boston Celtics (55-18) 80.13%
Feb. 2, 1997: Chicago Bulls (40-5) v. Seattle SuperSonics (32-13) 79.99%
Apr. 1, 2007: Phoenix Suns (54-18) v. Dallas Mavericks (61-11) 79.85%
Feb. 7, 1973: Boston Celtics (43-11) v. Los Angeles Lakers (44-11) 79.81%
Mar. 11, 1967: Boston Celtics (55-19) v. Philadelphia 76ers (63-11) 79.72%
Mar. 18, 2015: Golden State Warriors (53-13) v. Atlanta Hawks (53-14) 79.69%
Mar. 2, 2006: San Antonio Spurs (44-12) v. Dallas Mavericks (45-11) 79.45%
Jan. 15, 1981: Milwaukee Bucks (33-12) v. Philadelphia 76ers (39-7) 79.11%
Mar. 22, 1997: Chicago Bulls (58-9) v. Detroit Pistons (48-19) 79.09%
Jan. 25, 1981: Philadelphia 76ers (43-9) v. Phoenix Suns (40-13) 79.04%
Feb. 16, 1986: Boston Celtics (40-9) v. Los Angeles Lakers (39-12) 78.99%
Mar. 1, 1981: Boston Celtics (51-15) v. Philadelphia 76ers (54-13) 78.94%
Mar. 6, 2009: Boston Celtics (48-14) v. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-12) 78.68%
Apr. 12, 2009: Cleveland Cavaliers (64-15) v. Boston Celtics (60-19) 78.47%
Feb. 11, 1972: Boston Celtics (42-18) v. Los Angeles Lakers (49-7) 78.44%
Apr. 10, 1997: Chicago Bulls (67-10) v. New York Knicks (53-23) 78.42%
Mar. 28, 2006: Detroit Pistons (55-14) v. Dallas Mavericks (54-16) 78.41%
Mar. 18, 1997: Chicago Bulls (56-9) v. Seattle SuperSonics (45-19) 78.28%
Feb. 8, 2015: Memphis Grizzlies (37-13) v. Atlanta Hawks (42-9) 78.21%
Feb. 14, 1997: Chicago Bulls (43-6) v. Atlanta Hawks (32-15) 78.12%
Apr. 1, 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder (39-12) v. Chicago Bulls (42-11) 77.87%
Feb. 6, 1973: Los Angeles Lakers (43-11) v. New York Knicks (45-14) 77.87%
Mar. 9, 1973: Boston Celtics (57-13) v. Los Angeles Lakers (52-18) 77.85%
Apr. 3, 2009: Orlando Magic (55-19) v. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-14) 77.84%
Apr. 15, 2007: Dallas Mavericks (65-14) v. San Antonio Spurs (58-21) 77.84%
Mar. 31, 2013: Miami Heat (57-15) v. San Antonio Spurs (55-17) 77.77%
Mar. 16, 1983: Philadelphia 76ers (54-9) v. Boston Celtics (44-19) 77.77%
Feb. 17, 1991: Los Angeles Lakers (36-13) v. Portland Trail Blazers (41-9) 77.77%

Reduce the minimum of the range all the way to 30 combined games. Still only one game features a higher combined win percentage than Spurs-Warriors: Houston Rockets (18-1) vs. Seattle SuperSonics (16-1) in 1994.

The closest proximity is probably Bucks (35-8) vs. Lakers (39-3) in 1972. Milwaukee’s win snapped the Lakers’ 33-game winning streak.

It’s just rare for two teams on this level to meet so deep into the season – mostly because it’s rare for two teams to play at this level in the same season.

Not only are Golden State and San Antonio winning frequently, they’re winning big.

The Spurs are outscoring opponents by 14.5 points per game. The Warriors are +12.1 per game. That’d rank as the No. 1 and No. 7 marks of all time over a full season.

Here are the top 20 teams in point difference per game this far into a season, San Antonio in black and Golden State in blue:

image

We’ve seen something like this only once before. Beside 2015-16, just one other season produced two teams in the top 20 of margin of victory per game.

In 1971-72, the Lakers (69-13, +13.9) and Bucks (63-19, +13.2) dominated the competition.

Like the Spurs and Warriors, they even shared a conference. Milwaukee was in the West back then. Los Angeles won four of five regular-season meetings then beat the Bucks in six games in the conference finals en route to the title.

Those Bucks – even with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and a championship the previous season – are probably still underrated. They just had the misfortune of playing the same time as a loaded Lakers team that featured Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West.

There just hasn’t been anything like that simultaneous domination – until now.

For perspective, here are the top two teams in point difference per game this far into each season (No. 1 in black, No. 2 in blue):

image

However, there’s a big asterisk on the Warriors’ and Spurs success: They haven’t faced each other.

It’s much easier to dominate when not facing the league’s other elite teams. That’ll change soon.

This is the first of four meetings between Golden State and San Antonio. The Warriors still have all three of their games against the third-best Thunder left, and the Spurs also face Oklahoma City thrice more.

For both Golden State and San Antonio to maintain their high average margin of victory, they’ll have to beat up even more convincingly on other teams. After all, they can’t both dominate their four games with each other. They’ll likely pull each other down to the mean.

But perhaps one can keep its résumé so shiny. If so, will it be the Warriors or Spurs?

Someone will land the first blow in tonight’s historic matchup.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in the Bay Area, you can stream tonight’s Warriors-Spurs game here.

Report: Pistons wish Andre Drummond would play harder

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Andre Drummond #0 of the Detroit Pistons tries to get a shot off while covered by Festus Ezeli #31 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on November 9, 2015 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Andre Drummond is one of the NBA’s best young players. Averaging 17.3 points and 15.4 rebounds per game, he has the Pistons on pace for their first playoff appearance in seven seasons.

So, it’s all rosy in Detroit?

Not quite.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Drummond isn’t as good on defense as he should be, and privately, the Pistons wish he would play harder; he reaches instead of sliding his feet, leaps late for shots he has no chance of blocking and takes off-kilter angles defending the pick-and-roll.

Drummond doesn’t always give ideal effort, especially when he’s not getting touches offensively. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has also expressed dissatisfaction about Drummond’s free-throw shooting.

But Drummond is just 22 and on the right track. It’s not uncommon for young players not to give maximum effort.

He’s also so physically talented, possessing a rare – perhaps unprecedented – combination of size and athleticism, it’s easy to expect more from him. That’s not always fair.

The Pistons should – for now, at least – take Drummond’s positives and negatives. The good outweighs the bad. Significantly.

Drummond should continue developing the physical and mental endurance necessary to play harder, and the Pistons should keep pushing him to do so. They can’t reach their potential and advance deep in the postseason unless he does.

This is the natural evolution of the star on the rise, not a reason for panic

Report: Cavaliers would’ve strongly considered Tom Thibodeau if they fired David Blatt last summer

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A lot of people understand why the Cavaliers fired David Blatt.

Not as many understand why they fired Blatt to promote Tyronn Lue.

If Blatt wasn’t experienced enough to lead a championship contender, what was Lue, who had no head-coaching experience?

It seems the Cavs took the idea of replacing Blatt with a proven coach seriously. They just didn’t choose one.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Had the team made a coaching change last summer, a league source told ESPN.com, there would have been heavy consideration for Tom Thibodeau. But 41 games into the season, after witnessing Lue continue to straddle the nearly impossible line of being a loyal assistant to Blatt while growing organic connections to the team’s stars, management felt there was no one else more qualified to take the team where it wanted to go.

Thibodeau is still available. If the Cavaliers wanted him, they probably could’ve gotten him. I imagine coaching a championship contender would’ve appealed strongly to the former Bulls coach.

But considering Thibodeau was enough. If Cleveland gave Lue the job just because he was there, that would’ve been a mistake. If Cleveland considered a range of candidates – including proven commodities like Thibodeau – and chose Lue, that’s far more encouraging.

Report: 76ers ownership was intent on drafting Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis

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We know Josh Harris grew tired of Sam Hinkie’s process.

The 76ers owner hired Jerry Colangelo and empowered him to trade two second-rounders for Ish Smith and waive the young/talented/raw Christian Wood to sign veteran Elton Brand.

Harris wanted his team to win more now, even if it’s just enough to stop being the butt of the joke.

Did that thinking predate Colangelo’s hire – going back to Philadelphia passing on Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Sources have indicated Philly ownership was gung-ho to take one of the Big 3 — Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor or D’Angelo Russell — because taking another unknown European project may not have sat well with a disenchanted fan base.

Who knows whether Hinkie would’ve drafted Porzingis anyway? Porzingis reportedly wouldn’t even interview with Hinkie. Plus, consensus opinion rated Towns (No. 1 to the Timberwolves), Russell (No. 2 to the Lakers) and Okafor (No. 3 to the 76ers) ahead of everyone else.

But Porzingis was ahead of Okafor on some boards. It’s conceivable Porzingis would’ve been higher on Hinkie’s.

In hindsight, he should’ve been.

Re-do the draft, and Porzingis goes No. 2 behind Towns. Heck, even if you’re considering only impact this season, Porzingis still goes No. 2. He’s not the project many cracked him up to be.

If this report is true, it could be the sign of bigger problems in Philadelphia.

Drafting players based only on immediate impact is almost always a mistake. Most rookies aren’t ready to contribute significantly. Smart franchises don’t generally rely on them to do so. Those teams take the player whom they believe will be best in the long run. They also trust their basketball people make those decisions.

Just because the 76ers already used the No. 12 pick in 2014 on Dario Saric, who has yet to join the NBA, shouldn’t have affected last year’s draft. Don’t throw good money after bad (or maybe in this case, bad money after good).

To be fair, this is the type of shot people can take at the 76ers, the NBA’s easiest target, without it necessarily being true. It’s a story many want to believe, because it’s another excuse to laugh at a team many are already mocking.

But if Philadelphia’s owners mandated the team not draft Porzingis, that’s a major reason for concern.

Report: Cavaliers hiring Mike Longabardi as assistant coach

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 15:  Mike Longabardi Assistant Coach of the Phoenix Sun during a game against the Golden State Warriors on December 15, 2013 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers, after firing David Blatt and promoting Tyronn Lue, are short an assistant coach.

Fortunately for them, the Suns put a qualified one on the market last month.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Mike Longabardi had been with the Suns since 2013 until they fired him last month – a warning shot to head coach Jeff Hornacek. Prior to that, he worked for the Celtics with Lue.

Longabardi has typically focused on defense, which was Lue’s specialty in Cleveland. Likely, Longabardi takes over that role.