MILWAUKEE (AP) — Every victory raised the stakes for the Golden State Warriors.
Now that their record winning streak is over, the defending NBA champions can return to a bit of normalcy.
“I just told the guys that now we can have a regular season,” forward Draymond Green said in recounting his talk to teammates in the locker room after the loss Saturday night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Golden State’s NBA-record start ended after 24 games with the 108-95 loss to Milwaukee. The Warriors had a 28-game regular-season winning streak going back to last spring, five short of the NBA record 33-game run by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971-72.
Attention on the Warriors and their likable cast of characters, led by MVP sharpshooter Stephen Curry, grew as the victories piled up. On the road, fans and media filled arenas wondering if this was the night they would witness the end of the run.
That arrived on the final stop of a seven-game road trip Saturday, less than 24 hours after Golden State needed two overtimes to beat the Celtics in Boston. They were outplayed by the Bucks.
“We looked like we ran out of gas a little bit,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said.
His team, which normally makes 13 3s a game, was 6 of 26 from behind the arc.
Most Warriors said they didn’t feel any added pressure during the run. But it did seem as though Golden State was playing in the NBA Finals every time it hit the floor.
“It has been kind of a playoff feel just with the streak and all the media and attention around,” Green said. “I think probably the last seven or eight games we stopped getting better and just tried to win the game.”
Guard Shaun Livingston said the streak made the Warriors’ season different.
“It has been mentally taxing, just every game. We’re competitors, so we’re not complaining about it. It is fun to play that way,” Livingston said. “I think now we can settle in more to the season.”
The Warriors’ defense was starting to slip, Walton said. Turnovers were becoming more an issue.
Golden State can return to practice to work on the little things without the specter of the streak hanging over the team.
“What we are trying to do is be an NBA championship team. That requires a lot of work in getting back to the fundamentals and basics of game,” Walton said.
This is far from a team in freefall, though.
At 24-1 going into the next game Wednesday at home against Phoenix, the Warriors will still draw attention if they approach another milestone — the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record in 1995-96 is the best record in NBA history.
Confidence won’t be a problem with Golden State.
“We missed shots. They didn’t shut us down, man,” guard Klay Thompson said after the loss. “No one shuts us down.”