OAKLAND, Calif. – When the Golden State Warriors walk into their practice gym they are greeted by a large, old banner that reads, "1974-75 NBA World Champions." Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry believes his team's record season will be a bust if a new title banner isn't finally added to the practice gym this year.
"For the players, it is," Curry told Yahoo Sports. "No one will be happy for anything less. If we don't win our last game this season it's going to be a disappointing feeling, one where we felt like we fell short."
The Warriors enter the postseason with a league-high and franchise-record 67 wins, as well as home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Golden State is led by Curry, the 3-point champion and a Most Valuable Player candidate. None of the Warriors was born when Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and coach Al Attles led the franchise to the last title.
Now with high expectations, Curry and the Warriors are in unfamiliar territory. This postseason they're being hunted.
"We know we are going to get everybody's best shot," Curry said. "The regular season has prepared us for playoff situations. We've had a lot of double-digit wins, but we've really had to fight for 48 minutes every single night to make that happen. You'd probably look at it and say that's easy. That's great preparation for what we are going to have to go through.
"You just got to prepare. The feeling in the locker room is the exact same. You got to be very hungry. No one has changed, and I think that's a big deal."
Seven members of the Warriors' 1975 NBA championship team were in attendance when the anniversary of their title was celebrated on March 23. They said the key to winning was unselfishness, camaraderie and a belief in one another. Curry said he got insight from those players on what is needed to become a champion.
"They had to rally around each other and they had this stubborn belief that they could win," Curry said. "They knew what it took to win. They had more motivation that if you have the right pieces and everyone plays their role the best they can, you have to take advantage of that situation because it doesn't come around every year.
"Coming back 40 years later, they remembered how they felt. Nobody can take that away from them. That was motivation to go through that experience just like they did and enjoy it."
Curry also would love to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award. He and Houston Rockets guard James Harden lead the race. New Orleans' Anthony Davis, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are also candidates.
Harden has said he is deserving of the MVP award, and the Rockets sent a video book promoting him to voters. The Warriors' promotion included a media-relations representative calling voters and asking them to consider their award candidates. Curry declined to campaign for himself. The Warriors' lone MVP winner was Wilt Chamberlain during the 1959-60 season.
"Obviously, you can make a case for whomever," Curry said. "I can say whatever I want about my season and what separates me from the other guys on the list and all that. At the end of the day you have to win games. You have to play at a high level and let it do the talking for yourself.
"The MVP, it doesn't matter what anyone says off the court. Everyone had their opinion on what it is. You can go back and forth all day. And I don't want to distract of the bigger goals of us playing well night in and night out and searching for that championship.
"It would be very special to win that award and I hope that happens. I think I played well all year and have been very consistent. But that's kind of where it ends."
First-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr is also a candidate for NBA Coach of the Year. Kerr has won more games than any rookie coach in NBA history after replacing Mark Jackson.
"He keeps the locker room loose. He keeps it fresh," Curry said. "He is always learning. You can always tell just by when he puts new stuff in every day. Whether we are going to run it or not, you can tell that the wheels are running in his head and he is trying to get better. He's relied on his staff to kind of have as collaborative a unit as possible that has worked.
"Anyone can take over a talented team. Whether you capitalize on that talent is the difference in the coaching. I think he has done a great job of building everyone up individually and trying to get the best out of them from top to bottom. He's done a great job."
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs were the only Western Conference team to have a winning record (2-1) against the Warriors in the regular season. Golden State has lost 32 straight regular-season games in San Antonio. Golden State actually won a playoff game in San Antonio on May 8, 2013, but lost the second-round series in six games.
The West won't have any weak playoff teams, including the Warriors' first-round opponent: the New Orleans Pelicans featuring All-Star Anthony Davis. But Curry said the Spurs are as good as any team in the NBA.
"They are a championship-winning team," Curry said. "They've figured out the recipe to make that happen. It seems like every year they get stronger. Even this year their record wasn't great early in the season, but they just balled out these last two months. They are as good as anyone in the league. It's going to be tough for anyone to knock them out of the playoffs.
"If we get that opportunity I think we will be ready. We won't shy away from it. But until someone knocks them off, they are the champs."
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