Golden State Warriors Wearing Out Starters For Regular Season Record

On Friday night, the Golden State Warriors were finally taken down at home, losing 109-106 to the Boston Celtics. Boston disrupted the Warriors all night, and although Stephen Curry went through his usual phase of unfathomable long-range wizardry, the Celtics controlled most of the second half. With six games to go, Golden State still has their eyes on the best regular season record in NBA history. However, in attempt to reach this unparallelled achievement, the Warriors may be comprising postseason success later on down the road.

Against Boston, several key Golden State players logged massive playing time in the loss. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Curry played 37 minutes each for the Warriors, and Harrison Barnes was on the court for 35 minutes. Of course, recent injuries to Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Andre Iguodala have put more pressure on Golden State’s starters in recent weeks.

However, a possible matchup with the San Antonio Spurs is on tap in the playoffs, and the Spurs have taken a different approach as the postseason nears. The Spurs have been resting some of their best players over the past few weeks, as Gregg Popovich chose to concede the No. 1 seed to the Warriors. Before the regular season ends, Golden State will be taking on San Antonio two more times, and it would not be surprising if Popovich elects to bench his top players in those two contests as well.

This contrast could prove to be the difference in the ensuing playoff series. Beating a fresh Spurs team that has already shown the ability to slow the game down and take down Golden State could be a challenging task for the Warriors.

As ESPN‘s Brad Daugherty explains, fatigue has already reared its ugly head.

“I was watching the game a few nights ago against Washington. The energy level seemed to be waning, just a little bit. It’s a concern. You are getting towards the end of the season, you’re chasing history, but they’ve got to be really, really careful not to burn themselves completely out.”

The numbers back up Daugherty’s recent comments, which demonstrate that every single Golden State starter except Andrew Bogut has seen their minutes per game go up this season. Curry’s minutes are up 1.4 minutes per game from last season, and his backcourt mate has seen his minutes bumped up by 1.3 minutes per game compared to last year. Possibly the biggest concern is Green, who has only missed one game all season and is playing 3.2 more minutes per game than last season.

The Warriors have a competitive fire that needs to be present in any great team, but if Green’s comments this season are any indication, that same strength could be working as a weakness in this situation. On game day versus the Celtics, Steve Kerr pranked Green, saying that he would be giving him the day off. Green did not find Kerr’s joke amusing, and he immediately rebuffed the request. This was not the first time the Warriors discussed sitting Green this season, as Luke Walton was forced to persuade him to take a game off earlier in the season.

Ultimately, it has yet to be seen if Golden State’s attempt at a regular season record will haunt the Warriors come playoff time. Either way, it’s hard to blame a team that has their eyes set on the record books.

[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]

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