The Golden State Warriors came into the 2015-2016 season on fire and set a new record for most wins to start a season with a record of 24-0. The previous record was 15-0 back in 1948-1949 by the Washington Capitals and then tied in 1993-1994 with the Houston Rockets. Much of this success is attributed to the outstanding performances put on by last season’s MVP, Stephen Curry, and great interim coaching from Luke Walton. However, at the base of all this is the fact that they have what can be considered a “healthy” team, something that is just uncommon these days in professional level sports.
Injuries plague professional level teams with players getting injured during practice, during games, and in training. Combine the level of physical demand with the constant traveling schedule to play in the NBA and you have a recipe for disaster. Lebron James, widely considered to be one of the best that the sport of basketball has ever seen, recently made an interesting point on the success of the Golden State Warriors. "They've been healthy. They've been the most healthy team I've ever seen in NBA history, and they have great talent. Those guys all play for one common goal and that's to win, and that's all that matters." Having played the Warriors in the 2014-2015 finals he knows what it is like to face a top team firing on all cylinders. Cleveland entered last season’s finals without 3 key players: Kyrie irving, Anderson Varajeo and Kevin Love. The burden was placed almost entirely on James to get the Cavaliers through the series and it showed. By the end of the series Lebron James, who was forced to play the majority of each game with very little rest, was exhausted and the Warriors won games 4,5 and 6 with comfortable leads in regular time, also earning them the championship.
Injuries have carried over to the current season for the Cavaliers who are missing 4 of their top 8 guys: Kyrie Irving (left knee), Iman Shumpert (right wrist), Timofey Mozgov (right shoulder) and Mo Williams (right ankle). The Warriors, in comparison, are only down Thompson to an ankle injury. While it may not seem like the injuries are affecting the Cavaliers because they are leading the Eastern Conference, comparing the records of the 2 teams (16-8 versus 24-1 for the Cavaliers and Warriors respectively) you see the difference between having an elite player and having a dominant team.
How will things progress as the season goes on? If the past is any indicator, team health will be the key to winning the championship. The Warriors run unfortunately came to a halt last weekend when they suffered a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, but the occasional bad showing is to be expected. The Cavaliers are also set to have Kyrie Irving back in the lineup this week. With both teams leading their respective conferences we would see the two clash again in the NBA Finals. We will see who is the healthier team this time around.
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