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Can the Warriors prove Klay Thompson right and win 70 games?

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NBA players have a habit of believing themselves capable of any and all accomplishments, to the point that it's usually not sensible to rate their statements by any sort of external logic. It takes a lot to succeed in the best sports leagues in the world, and unrealistic confidence is usually a factor.

It was therefore not especially shocking that Golden State Warriors wing Klay Thompson said this weekend that he believes the defending champions capable of becoming just the second team in league history to reach 70 wins. Most pundits have taken 2014-15's franchise-record 67 wins as a best-case scenario for Golden State, and initial responses to Thompson's comments followed a similar train of thought. It's hard for everything to go quite so well once, let alone twice.

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after being called for his second foul in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after being called for his second foul in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Monday night's 50-point decimation of the Memphis Grizzlies may not have changed many conclusions on this issue, but it probably got a few people to consider it a little more seriously. Yes, it's difficult to judge a team's capacity to win 70 when they've only played four and still have 78 left over the next 5 1/2 months. But that Grizzlies win was so absurdly overwhelming that it's fair to wonder if this team has reached its ceiling. Down one point after the first quarter, Golden State outscored a solid playoff team 72-27 over the next two periods and got excellent performances up and down the roster despite playing without starting center Andrew Bogut.

Stephen Curry looks fully capable of repeating as MVP and could be better than ever regardless, Draymond Green is every bit the game-changing force he was all last season, Thompson has started slow but remains one of the league's best two-way shooting guards, etc. All that and head coach Steve Kerr isn't even back on the bench yet, and they still look like the best team in the league. What's stopping them from reaching 70?

Well, Thompson basically answered that question when he suggested its possibility. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group:

“That’s going to be a tough one,” Thompson said on a Google Hangouts Q&A with ShotTracker, a wearable tech company he partnered with. “We’ll try. There are so many good teams. We’ll try. We did get 67 wins last year, which was an amazing feat. We might be able to get 70. It’s going to depend a lot on health, obviously, and a lot of lucky bounces that go our way.

“Seventy-two wins, that’s a lot of wins, man. I don’t know if that will be done again, but hey man, we might be the team to do it just because we reached 67 last year. And if we stay focused and we take every game serious, we should have a chance to reach 70. It won’t be easy. It will be extremely difficult, but you know what? Why not?”

Yes, health is the key question, especially when the Warriors have avoided major injuries since the beginning of last season and would seem to be primed for one if only due to the law of averages. On the other hand, not all injuries are created equal, and it's possible that the Warriors could sustain a month without any single player other than Curry, Green, and Thompson without surrendering the best record in the NBA. The roster is that stacked.

To win 70 games, though, a team must want to win 70 games. Leung's story recounts how Kerr told reporters last season that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls won 72 in large part because Michael Jordan made it a priority to break the previous record for most wins in a season. The Warriors could well find themselves in a similar position to the one they were in last season, with the conference locked up and plenty of time to spare. Will they feel compelled to put in a maximum effort to reach an arbitrary win total when a second-straight title is the ultimate goal?

It's obviously very early to consider such possibilities, but the last year-plus of results at least raises the issue that we could be witnessing a historically great team. It's remarkable that 70 wins is a possible topic of discussion, no matter how likely it is.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!