OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — With a 48-4 record and last year’s NBA championship trophy in their possession, the Golden State Warriors had little need for upgraded at the trade deadline.
So while most of the other 29 teams were busily working the phones and making deals, the Warriors were more relaxed on deadline day Thursday, getting their final practice in before starting a six-game post-All-Star break road trip Friday night in Portland.
“It’s nice to know who we are and know our identity and know how were going to play and how we’re going to win,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “With the pieces we have, everybody is really well established with their roles. That’s a comfortable feeling for sure. We’ve been on the other side of it not too long ago when you never knew if you were one piece away or one move away or how a trade could impact a season either positively or negatively. I like where we are.”
There is plenty of reason for that. The Warriors followed up their first championship in 40 years by winning a record 24 straight games to open the season. They have shown few signs – if any – of slowing down since then, having won 11 straight before the All-Star break, including wins by a combined 64 points against contenders Cleveland and San Antonio.
With the league’s most efficient offense led by Curry’s 29.8 points per contest and league-leading 245 3-pointers and the second most efficient defense anchored by fellow All-Star Draymond Green, the Warriors are a team without a major weakness, leading to the inactivity at the deadline.
“We like our team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re doing OK. I don’t see the need to do much.”
That’s not to say that Kerr doesn’t see room for improvement over the final 30 regular-season games to get Golden State into top form for the playoffs.
The biggest issues Kerr pointed out were being able to play a fast-paced, offensive game without turning the ball over too much and maintaining the high defensive intensity for longer stretches.
Curry likes his coach’s strive for perfection, pointing out the Kerr broke a clipboard in anger last season when the team won 67 games and a championship.
“He has a nice long rolodex of stuff no matter how we play,” Curry said. “That’s a great coach. Whether it’s nitpicking or focusing on details that might not seem important, they are important when you’re trying to win a championship.”
The major focus around the Warriors during the stretch run will be on their chase for the single-season wins record of 72 set by Chicago in 1995-96. Golden State needs to go 24-6 to tie the Bulls’ mark.
The upcoming six-game trip will be a key stretch to determine whether that will be realistic. The Warriors follow that with 17 of their final 24 games at home, where they have won 42 straight regular-season games.
The focus for the Warriors is less on the record than on remaining ahead of San Antonio (45-8) for the top seed in the West.
“I look at that as a byproduct,” Kerr said of 72 wins. “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t I don’t really care. Our goal is to be the one seed. That’s the only tangible goal we have. We never set any goals for number of wins.”
NOTES: Curry was officially presented with the 2015 AP Male Athlete of the Year award after practice. Curry joined Larry Bird (1986), Michael Jordan (1992-94) and LeBron James (2013) as the only basketball players to win the award that started in 1931. … Warriors C Festus Ezeli spoke for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left knee last week. Ezeli we be re-evaluated in late March and expects to be able to play before the end of the regular season. “I’ll be back and I’ll be better than I was before,” he said.