I know the most die-hard, optimistic Warriors fans will disagree with me, but I think the lackluster performance against a woeful Wizards team in Tuesday’s 112-94 loss was a big blow to Don Nelson’s chances of moving out of a tie with Lenny Wilkens for the all-time wins record.
First of all, the lack of motivation displayed by the Warriors in this game was surprising, only because they have been playing so hard and so well the past couple weeks. The Wizards have put together a nice little stretch, winning three of four since ending a 16-game losing streak, and they certainly seem to be motivated to finish the season strong. But I was really surprised, not so much by the loss, but by the Warriors’ apathy in the first half.
That being said, the Warriors have another chance today to get Nelson the record, with an even more winnable game against the Timberwolves (5 p.m., CSN-Bay Area). Minnesota is truly a horrible, horrible team. They have 15 wins this season and have lost 24 of their past 26 games. They’re not close, either, losing games by an average of 12.5 points during that stretch. I know the worst record in the NBA resides in New Jersey, but the Nets aren’t the league’s worst team. That distinction belongs to the Timberwolves.
So, this is a game the Warriors should win. I fully expect the Warriors to win this game. I know it’s on the road and it’s the tail end of a back-to-back, but the Timberwolves are bad enough that those two things don’t matter. The Warriors should win this game.
If they don’t, I’m going to stick with my earlier prediction (see the blog entry here) that Nelson won’t pass Wilkens for the all-time record. The Warriors have four more games after this, but none of those games are easy, and I don’t think the Warriors will win any of them, especially if they’re coming off the emotional blow of back-to-back losses to the Wizards and T’Wolves.
The next four games, against the Clippers, Thunder, Jazz and Blazers, all look like losses to me. Three of the four teams — the Thunder, Jazz and Blazers — are far superior teams to the Warriors and will still be playing for playoff positioning. In my mind, superior talent + motivation is a winner every time. The Warriors won’t win any of those three games. The other game, on Saturday against the Clippers in Los Angeles, is a possible win. The Clippers are about the Warriors’ equal in talent, but I give the Clippers the slight edge because they’re at home. That game just looks like a loss to me, especially if the Warriors are coming off a demoralizing loss to the Timberwolves.
That said, I think the Warriors win tonight.