The Golden State Warriors hit the ground running in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals, with an impressive 113-91 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They took a five-point first quarter lead and continued to grow it throughout the game. In turn, they made the talented Cavaliers roster look like a mediocre bunch.
Overall, the Warriors looked like not only the best team in the NBA but possibly the greatest team ever. That may seem like a big statement to make, but many people echoed that sentiment after the game. One of those names was Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, who openly said the Warriors are the “best I’ve ever seen.”
This comes on the heels of not only the Game 1 loss to the Warriors, but also considering the fact that Golden State has now started the 2017 NBA playoffs with a 13-0 record. Is a full playoff sweep on the horizon? It seems like a possibility.
The Proof Is in the Elo
Much was made about the big Game 1 victory by the Warriors, but Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight dropped possibly the strongest proof that we’re witnessing the greatest team ever.
As Silver pointed out, the Warriors have the highest Elo rating in NBA history at this point, which broke the previous record that was held by the 1996 Chicago Bulls, who totaled an 1853 Elo score. The Warriors, as FiveThirtyEight explained, surpassed that number on Thursday night, hitting an 1856 Elo score with their win over the Cavaliers.
To clarify what an Elo score is exactly, the article above gave the analysis, explaining how teams can both gain and lose points.
Elo ratings have a simple formula; the only inputs are the final score of each game, and where and when it was played. Teams always gain Elo points for winning. But they get more credit for upset victories and for winning by larger margins. Elo ratings are zero-sum, however. When the Houston Rockets gained 49 Elo points by winning the final three games of their Western Conference semifinal during this year’s playoffs, that meant the Los Angeles Clippers lost 49 Elo points.
A rating of 1500 is approximately average, although the league average can be slightly higher or lower depending on how recently the league has expanded. (Expansion teams begin with a 1300 rating.) Select a team above, and zoom in to explore its history.
What Would Make Them the Best Team Ever?
If the Warriors had won the NBA championship last season, that team, which went 73-9, probably would have had just as strong of an argument. But, there’s no turning your nose up at a 67-15 record, complete with potentially going undefeated in the playoffs.
In order for the Warriors to go down as the best team in history, it’s actually pretty simple what they’ll need to do. They need to win the 2017 championship and do so in impressive fashion. Some predicted the Warriors this matchup with the Cavaliers in five games. If they manage to do that or even get a sweep, then they should go down as the greatest team ever.
Sure, that 1995-96 Bulls team which went 72-10 and won the championship has their own argument. But based on pure talent and dominance in the postseason, the edge would go to the Warriors in the end if things continue to go how they have been.
Cavs vs. Warriors: NBA Finals Schedule, Dates & Times
They are who we thought they were. Check out the 2017 NBA Finals schedule with a rundown of the dates and times of the Cavs-Warriors championship series.
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