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Golden State will be tough to stop in NBA's Western Conference playoffs

Golden State will be tough to stop in NBA's Western Conference playoffs
Warriors point guard Stephan Curry celebrates late in the fourth quarter during a 124-117 win over the Clippers this season. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

They have ruled the NBA like no one ever has in the history of the game, and until Golden State is knocked from its throne, the Warriors will be favored to wear the crown again.

The Warriors finished with an all-time regular-season record of 73-9, besting the 72-10 mark set by Michael Jordan and his 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

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Reigning most valuable player Stephen Curry has become the darling of the league with his wizardly shooting and playmaking acumen. Forward Draymond Green is the man with the passion and fire that drives the Warriors. And Coach Steve Kerr is the steward of this group that has changed the game.

The Warriors have been so dominant that many wonder how San Antonio, even with a remarkable 67-15 record, can unseat the 2015 champions.

The Spurs had a historic season too, matching the 1985-86 Boston Celtics for the best-ever home record at 40-1.

But the Spurs' lone loss came to the Warriors, who had lost 33 consecutive regular-season games in San Antonio before Golden State gutted out a victory in Texas on April 10 to win the season series, 3-1.

That win by the Warriors may have changed the dynamics if the teams meet in the West finals.

"Both of them have had historical seasons, but the Warriors have obviously trumped the Spurs and managed to absorb all the attention and focus, and rightfully so," TNT game analyst Grant Hill said. "But it's clearly evident that the Spurs just have not been able to figure out how to beat the Warriors.

"It's to the point where the Spurs have slowed down the pace rather than getting into a track meet with the Golden State Warriors and I think as a result, has kind of gotten away from who they are. But I still think the Spurs have a chance against the Warriors if they meet."

No. 3-seeded Oklahoma City, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and the No. 4 seed Clippers, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, have both been steamrolled by the Warriors this season.

The Thunder were swept, 3-0, by the Warriors, twice losing despite having the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

"The Thunder is my sleeper team," Hill said. "They have Westbrook and Durant and they are two of the best players in the league. They can beat the Spurs [in a possible second-round series] and then give Golden State everything they can ask for."

The Clippers would meet the Warriors in the second round if both teams advance.

But the Clippers were swept, 4-0, by the Warriors, who open defense of their title against Houston on Saturday.

"I think the Clippers are going to give Golden State all they can handle," TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley said. "I'm probably going to pick them to beat the Warriors too. I've never been sold on the Warriors. I thought they got away last year without having to play anybody and I think this year the Clippers have a great chance."

What sets the Warriors apart, however, is having the NBA's most lethal weapon in Curry, who led the league in scoring (30.1) and is widely expected to win another MVP award.

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"If Steph Curry keeps playing the way he's playing," former Clippers and Chicago Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said, "I don't see anybody slowing Golden State down."

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter: @BA_Turner

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