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The five teams that 'really' beat the Golden State Warriors

We'll always remember the 2015-16 season for the Warriors' 73 wins, but five teams will have the privilege of saying that they "really" beat the Warriors. In a way, we can learn just as much about the mindset of this team from those very few losses as we learned from the totality of their wins.

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The Draymond Doctrine is an unofficial player-driven NBA policy regarding conditions for validating regular season wins.

It stipulates that when a team gets outscored in a regular season game that was significantly influenced by player injury or extreme fatigue (e.g. SEGABABA after a short-handed double overtime at the end of five games in eight nights to conclude a seven-game road trip), their opponent shall receive credit in the standings but not receive the court cred granted to a team that outscored them at full strength.

The Doctrine was crafted near the end of a 2015-16 regular season in which the Golden State Warriors only lost 9 times but still constantly received criticism from basketball royalty, who sought every angle possible to discredit the team's success. Warriors All-Star Draymond Green first stated the doctrine in an interview with KNBR near the end of the season, noting that only three of the seven teams that had outscored them as of April 1 "really beat us". Golden State of Mind community member Scipiotheyounger originally coined the term "The Draymond Green Standard for Wins", which was later shortened (in my imagination) to The Draymond Doctrine.

In addition to the three teams mentioned by Green in his original statement —€” the Detroit Pistons, Portland Trail Blazers, and L.A. Lakers — the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves have to be considered as examples of teams that "really" beat the Warriors since the games occurred at home. Judging from the way people still talk about the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' 10 losses —€” as evidenced by Jeff Morton's piece at Denver Stiffs about Mahmoud "Steph 1.0" Abdul-Rauf and the Denver Nuggets defeating the Bulls — these five teams will be remembered as part of an elite group that managed to beat a team that will be remembered for decades as having one of the best seasons ever if not making a claim as the best team ever.

Opponents to The Doctrine, such as Daniel C. Lewis of Denver Stiffs, claim that Green's comment was disrespectful to those teams that were able to compete with the Warriors long enough to have a an opportunity to beat them at all given that only nine teams accomplished the feat. However, the spirit of The Doctrine can be read differently: when the Warriors exhibited the will to win for 48 minutes and had the tools available to impose that will on an opponent, they rarely — if ever — lost.

So with those five games in mind and everybody (and possibly their mothers) looking for a blueprint for beating the defending champs, which team deserves the credit for really handing the Warriors their worst loss of the season?

The five teams that "really" beat the Warriors

@Detroit Pistons, Jan 16 —€” 113-95

According to The Draymond Doctrine, this was the first time an opponent really beat the Warriors. And it might've been uglier than the final score suggested.

I remember watching this game and just being shocked that the Warriors didn't even seem to show up — this was Harrison Barnes' first game back after an extended absence so my expectation was a big win with the full death lineup available.

Andre Drummond had an absolutely dominant game in the paint and the Warriors just seemed to have no answer for that. There was certainly an argument for fatigue in this game, but it was also the first time the Warriors lost this season at full strength. What happened to no excuses basketball?!?

That said, if there is anything remotely resembling a blueprint to beating the Warriors, the Pistons have it: a combination of aggressive perimeter defenders who can pressure Curry while fighting through screens and an agile big who punished the Warriors' small lineups is essential to beating this team. Throw in a poor bench performance from Golden State (seven total points?!?!?) and the Warriors simply weren't able to keep up.

@Portland Trail Blazers, Feb 19 — 137-105

The biggest loss of the season by any standard, Draymond's or otherwise, this game was just ridiculous. Maybe you can blame the post-All-Star malaise or say that they had too many games off or something — they didn't have a game in the four days after the All-Star Game — but there's no reason a team this good should've lost a game that badly.

I'd rather not rehash this one.

@L.A. Lakers, Mar 6 — 112-95


But seriously, I was at my mother's birthday party during this game. I was following almost exclusively via Twitter and watching the score in almost complete disbelief. I briefly snuck away to a bar like a block away from this place we were holding the party at — I didn't suggest televisions at this party because I didn't think there'd be a need to monitor this game closely — bought an orange juice just to legitimize taking up a seat while I waited to see if there were signs of life, then left about halfway through the fourth quarter when it was clear this thing was done.

Technically, this should not have fit the Draymond Doctrine because Iguodala was out...but that just doesn't begin to explain this loss. Of course, I'm not claiming to know what happened that day. It was absurd. I'm glad I didn't see it. I hope it never happens again.

Boston Celtics, Apr 1 — 109-106

Given that the Boston Celtics took the Warriors to double OT in Boston and handed the Warriors their first loss at Oracle, they have a pretty strong claim to being the toughest Eastern Conference opponent of the season — that's especially impressive when considering how well the Pistons, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors played the Dubs this season. Festus Ezeli was out for this one, which could make the Draymond Doctrine applicable, but it takes a lot to beat the Warriors at home and we can't just take that away from the Celtics.

Minnesota Timberwolves, Apr 5 — 124-117 (OT)

Is there any doubt this was the most disappointing loss of the season? Recency bias aside, the Warriors had all of their players back, had a 17-point second half lead, and the Timberwolves didn't even seem to be close to their level for most of it.

In trying to think ahead to future debates about how the 2015-16 Warriors might have been even better than their record, I imagine this is the game that will come up in my mind as the reason they didn't end up with 74 wins: whereas they just looked bad in those other losses, this was one they had in the bag and blew without a good explanation except complacency and terrible play in the fourth quarter.

Honorable mention

In writing about the Warriors' resilience throughout this season, Michael Lee of The Vertical listed a few games that the Warriors really did need some luck or divine intervention to win, including an early season home game that came within inches of being a loss that deserves honorable mention for just how close the Warriors came to losing.

The close ones have typically gone the Warriors' way, whether it's Harrison Barnes drilling a 3 from the right corner in Philadelphia or Stephen Curry pulling up from 38 feet and gleefully doing the Bernie dance in Oklahoma City. The times when a nail-biting defeat might've been imminent, Brooklyn's Brook Lopez missed a point-blank layup, Boston's Isaiah Thomas had a 3-pointer blocked by Shaun Livingston, and Draymond Green blocked a jumper by Utah's Shelvin Mack.

Brooklyn Nets, Nov 14 —€” 107-99 (OT)

I wrote this after this game happened and I stand by it: this game should've been a loss. Nets center Brook Lopez probably makes that tip-in at the end of regulation at least 50% of the time —€” I don't care how well Bogut positioned himself in between Lopez and the basket.

And you have to remember what was at stake here: not only the home winning streak, but also the undefeated start that lasted until the loss in Milwaukee. In hindsight, you almost have to wonder if dropping a game at home this early in the season would have helped to avoid some of those losses later in the season — two in five days at the beginning of April, in particular — when some combination of complacency and pressure seemed to affect the team. Even though Klay Thompson was out this game and Marreese Speights simply hadn't found a rhythm yet with Steve Kerr still absent, a loss at home to a non-playoff team would certainly have ranked among the worst this season.

I just keep coming back to this game as an early potential turning point in the season. J.R. Wilco from Pounding the Rock said something that stuck with me in his Q&A with Andrew Flohr before the Spurs game in Oakland: "He's talked openly about how winning too many games in a row makes him uneasy and how he's relieved when they're over -- because winning so regularly and easily does something to the mindset of a team, and it's exhausting to play games while you have a balloon tied to your belt loop." Had the Warriors lost this Brooklyn game at home, ended the home winning streak, ended the undefeated start to the season, and felt the sting of losing a bit earlier would it have been easier to keep the edge later on in the season?

Strangely, Popovich has never had a team defend a title so maybe that's not applicable here...but he does have five rings (three in five years from 2003-2007), which is enough to impress me.

Oklahoma City, Feb 27 —€” 121-118 (OT)

We'll always remember this...

...but should never forget this:

And perhaps that game — or those few minutes at the end of regulation into overtime — really defines the season: it got to a point when most of us were justifiably more nervous about Andre Iguodala hitting a pair of game-tying free throws that Steph Curry hitting a near half court three off the dribble.

And ultimately both happened on one night in one of the best regular season games this season and, quite possibly, in many of our lifetimes.

The Warriors' will to win took on a magical quality early on in the season and, remarkably, rarely faltered. This was a crazy season and, no matter the outcome, I hope you've taken some time to enjoy it before we turn our focus to the playoffs.

To that end, BreakingT (with some design concept help from Tony.psd) has come up with another t-shirt for us to enjoy as we celebrate the Warriors. Check out the design below and click here to get one of 'em.

Warriors record logo Alex Torres/BreakingT.