By Sam Cowan
Entering a Wednesday night showdown against the Dallas Mavericks on ESPN, the Golden State Warriors are on pace for an unprecedented number of wins.
The Warriors enter the game with a 41-4 record which puts them on pace for a 74-win season. The NBA record for most wins in a season was set at 72 by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls during the 1995-1996 season.
Those Bulls actually also entered their 46th game of the season with a record of 41-4 which only intensifies the comparisons between the two teams.
It shouldn’t be a surprise the Warriors are on a record-setting pace considering their record-breaking start to the season. The Warriors won their first 24 games to start the season which set a new NBA record by a wide margin.
In comparison, the Bulls started a somewhat modest 10-2 before winning 31 out of 32 games to put themselves at the top of the league.
Both teams are also led by star players with Stephen Curry dominating the current NBA and Michael Jordan being arguably the greatest player of all-time playing at his physical peak. Jordan’s 30 points, six rebounds and four assists per game through the first 45 games of the season is virtually identical to Curry’s 30 points, five rebounds and six assists per game.
The difference between styles of play is evident when looking at the possessions per 48 minutes for each team. The Bulls averaged 91 possessions per 48 minutes which was good for 20th in the NBA during the season while the Warriors are second in the NBA this season with 99 possessions per 48 minutes.
However, despite these differences in possession numbers, the teams are nearly identical in terms of points scored and points allowed per possession. The Bulls have the advantage in points scored and the Warriors have the edge in points allowed per possession, but these are differences by less than one point each.
No matter how you look at it, the Warriors of this season and the Bulls of 1996 are on equal ground in nearly every statistical category.
Perhaps the biggest point of concern for Warriors fans should be the big games still to come. Through 45 games, the Warriors have played just 20 games against teams at or above .500. For comparison, the Bulls played 25 games against above .500 teams in the same stretch.
Big games in the remainder of the season for the Warriors include three against the Oklahoma City Thunder and two more against the San Antonio Spurs, who still trail the Warriors by three games in the Western Conference.
The game Wednesday against the Mavericks is also important because it could put the Warriors one-up on the Bulls. The Bulls lost their 46th game of the 1995-1996 season.
The last time the Warriors and Mavericks met, the Mavericks won by 23 in a game Curry missed due to injury. This time, Curry will play and the Warriors will have a chance to get revenge and continue their record-breaking pace.
Whether the Warriors will catch or surpass the Bulls of 1996 has yet to be seen, but the game on Wednesday could be a good indication of their chances.