On April 10, 2016, the San Antonio Spurs hosted their final home game of the season against the red hot Golden State Warriors. These two teams were the last two to win NBA Championships and the Warriors were hoping to repeat. On their way to the best record in the NBA, Golden State was also looking to grab the best regular season record in NBA history.
The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, finished 72-10, a feat that had been unchallenged for twenty years.
With the second night of a road back-to-back (and having only beat the Memphis Grizzlies by one point), Steve Kerr’s team needed to beat the San Antonio Spurs before heading home to host their last game of the season. If the Dubs beat both the Spurs and Grizzlies in those final two games, they’d best the Bulls record and finish the season 73-9.
On the other side of the coin, that April 10th game was the final home game for Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, and the Silver & Black had yet to lose at home. The Spurs stepped onto the hardwood with a 40-0 home record. One more win and they’d surpass the 1985-1986 Boston Celtics whose 40-1 at home record had gone untouched for thirty years.
That’s a lot to ride on one game for two teams already destined for the playoffs.
A low scoring first quarter by both teams gave the Spurs a 19-14 lead after the first frame, but the Warriors would prevail during the second quarter to keep the game tied at 35 apiece going into halftime. You read that right. The Warriors scored 35 in the half. Unfortunately, so did the Spurs.
A tightly contested third quarter gave Golden State a one point advantage at the end of the third. Stephen Curry made a 3⁄4 court shot at the buzzer, but it was dismissed when the replay showed he hadn’t gotten it off in time. That said, the momentum leading into the final twelve minutes was on the side of the visitors.
In the fourth, Golden State scored 30 to the Spurs 25, the best quarter for each in the match, but the math was in favor of the Warriors. They would go on to beat Memphis at home and earned the best regular season record in NBA history. The Spurs tied the Celtics as the only two teams to go 40-1 at home over the course of a season.
A seven point swing, the difference between a couple of stops, a made or missed shot either way, or one small run, could have changed the fate of both teams in the record books.
Of course, it’s just one game. But there’s a lot to be said for one game here and there.
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