Steve Kerr has already said that resting his Golden State Warriors players will take precedent over pursuit of the NBA's single-season wins record. It's the logical choice for Kerr, who has been on the sideline for only 16 regular-season losses in his two years as head coach.
Yet given the Warriors' sheer dominance this season, it could be debated that they can break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' all-time record of 72 wins regardless of who rests and when.
Going into Sunday afternoon's matchup with the lowly Los Angeles Lakers, the Warriors have already played 60 games. They need to go 18-4 to finish 73-9 and beat the record. Technically, they're ahead of where those Bulls - whom Kerr played for - were at the same point.
|Through 60 games||W-L|
Golden State has a 60.2 percent chance to break the record, according to ESPN's metrics.
However, the obstacles in the Warriors' way are real. The stretch run of an NBA season is never easy for any team, and while to say the Dubs' schedule is littered with landmines would be a slight exaggeration, it's still going to be tough.
Golden State has five back-to-backs remaining, commencing with the Lakers contest Sunday. Here's what else sticks out in particular:
March 11 & April 3 vs. Trail Blazers
The Warriors haven't lost at home this season and are currently tied for the record for the longest home-winning streak (44 games) in NBA history. The last time they dropped a regular-season contest at Oracle Arena was Jan. 27, 2015. Hosting the Portland Trail Blazers twice down the stretch, however, is noteworthy.
Oakland native Damian Lillard and the Blazers handed the Warriors their worst defeat of the season Feb. 19 in Portland. Lillard scored 51 in a 137-105 drubbing, a loss Kerr said his team totally lost their poise in.
March 18 at Mavericks
Like Portland, Dallas handed the Warriors one of their losses this season, a 114-91 defeat at the American Airlines Center on Dec. 30. However, it's important to remember Stephen Curry sat out the game with a shin injury.
March 19 at Spurs
This is where things get tricky. The Warriors face the Spurs in San Antonio on the second night of a back-to-back following the Dallas game. The NBA schedule makers back-loaded Warriors-Spurs matchups this season, unaware both teams would be on historic paces (as of Sunday, the Spurs haven't lost at home either).
As it stands now, the two have only played once - a 30-point home win by the Dubs in January. "I've spent more time thinking about Golden State than I have any other team I've ever thought about in my whole career," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said last month.
March 30 at Jazz
There are more appealing options for NBA teams than playing the Utah Jazz in the altitude of Salt Lake City on the second night of a back-to-back. The upside for the Warriors is they've beaten Utah twice already, and the Jazz will be wrapping up a particularly tough month schedule-wise, which will tell the tale if they're a playoff team or not.
April 7-13, 4 games against Spurs & Grizzlies
In an almost bizarre finish to their regular season, the Warriors wrap it up with four games against two teams, in order: home against the Spurs, at the Memphis Grizzlies, another visit to the Spurs, then home against the Grizzlies.
The two games in the middle come on a back-to-back, meaning both of the Warriors' visits to San Antonio this season are in that format players and coaches despise. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are beset by injuries, but they are still a playoff team that beat the Warriors twice in the postseason last year.
There are other potentially troublesome home games against the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, but Kerr and the Warriors are probably also keenly aware that the '96 Bulls also lost in March to the expansion Toronto Raptors - who finished 21-61 that year.