TORONTO—The pressure rises with every win for the Golden State Warriors. But the streak continues.
The Warriors improved to 21-0 Saturday, staving off a determined Toronto Raptors team in an entertaining 112-109 win before a capacity crowd of 20,160 at the Air Canada Centre.
Golden State interim coach Luke Walton acknowledged that the stakes go up with every triumph.
“As the streak goes, I think teams want to beat us. There’s obviously more media around. There’s people flying in to see the games. And our guys love that. They really do,” said Walton, enveloped in a scrum of some 50 reporters and cameramen.
“They love the stage, they love that centre stage and they love competing at the highest level. So the more the pressure builds, I think, is part of the reason we’re able to keep winning and playing at a high level.”
According to Elias Sports, the win moved the Warriors past the 1884 St. Louis Maroons, who were the only other major pro sports team to start a season with 20 straight wins. Golden State had previously eclipsed the NBA record of 15 straight wins to start the season.
“It’s awesome for these guys,” Walton said of the latest record. “It’s something that when they look back on, just like the NBA (record), when the season’s over, their careers are over, it will be one of those special, special things that they can say they are a part of in the history books. But as far as what we’re trying to accomplish right now, it doesn’t mean much.”
Star guard Stephen Curry, whose father Dell Curry played for the Raptors, said the Warriors have their own way of looking at the streak—21 challenges that they have managed to solve.
“Every guy in the locker-room, we genuinely isolate each game as this is another 48 minutes to try to get better. And win a basketball game, how are we going to do it? That shows when we’re out there,” said Curry, looking like he had just walked out of a Gap catalogue with an angled tuque above a stylish pale trench coach, blue jeans and unblemished work boots.
“A game like tonight on the road against a team that’s playing the way they did, for the entire game. (Raptors guard) Kyle Lowry’s doing what he’s doing. You’d think we’d kind of falter under that pressure and people would get that deer in the headlights look, knowing that if we lose the streak’s over—that kind of deal.”
“Obviously that might happen eventually. But the look on our face and our body language and our kind of composure out there shows. We’re a tested team that’s been through a lot the last three, four years. So we remember those lessons and it’s working out.”
Curry did his part Sunday to extend the Golden State show.
He had 44 points and seven assists on a night when he opened and closed strong. He had 16 points and two assists in the first quarter and 15 points and three assists in the fourth.
Lowry had a career-high 41 points for Toronto.