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Spurs, Warriors meet in best regular-season matchup in NBA history

Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs and Stephen Curry of the Warriors meet Monday night. Getty Images

The best regular-season matchup in NBA history -- based on winning percentage -- takes place Monday night when the 38-6 San Antonio Spurs visit the 40-4 Golden State Warriors.

Their combined winning percentage of .886 is the highest by two teams at least 40 games into a season in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

Elias notes that the next-best matchups on that list featured some of the game’s all-time greats.

On Jan. 9, 1972, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson of the Bucks defeated Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain of the Lakers. The combined winning percentage of the two teams was .871 entering that game. On Jan. 24, 1967, Bill Russell’s Celtics beat Chamberlain’s 76ers. Boston and Philadelphia entered that game with a combined winning percentage of .833.

Warriors by the numbers

The Warriors have won 38 straight home games dating to last season, tied with the Celtics of the mid-1980s for the third-longest home winning streak in NBA history. Each of San Antonio’s six losses this season has come on the road.

Stephen Curry enters Monday leading the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points per game, but success against the Spurs has not come easy. He has scored 30 or more points in three of 16 career games against them, and his 3-13 record against them is his worst against any team. Curry has a Player Efficiency Rating of 18.2 against San Antonio, also his worst against any team.

Draymond Green enters with eight triple-doubles, most in the NBA this season. That’s already twice as many triple-doubles as the next-closest Warriors player in a full season in the past 30 years.

In the first 69 seasons in NBA history, only three teams outscored its opponents by at least 12 points per game: the 1971-72 Lakers (12.3 points per game), 1970-71 Bucks (12.3) and 1995-96 Bulls (12.2). The Spurs (14.5) and Warriors (12.1) are on pace to join that list this season.

Spurs by the numbers

The Spurs have outscored their opponents by 638 points this season, the best point differential through 44 games in NBA history. They have already set a franchise single-season record with 12 wins by 25 or more points this season.

San Antonio is holding opponents to an NBA-low 89.8 points per game this season; that leads the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers by 5.9 points per game.

Kawhi Leonard ranks in the top five in the NBA in PER, Real Plus-Minus and Win Shares. The first-time All-Star selection and reigning defensive player of the year guarded Curry on one of his 17 field goal attempts when these teams last played (in April 2015). Leonard had a career-high seven steals in that game.

Tim Duncan will not play Monday night. San Antonio is 7-0 this season in games without Duncan, but all of those were at home against teams currently under .500.

Basketball Power Index

The Warriors are the BPI favorite at home Monday, winning in 57 percent of simulations. It's tied for the second-closest projected matchup for Golden State the rest of the way.

There is a 74 percent chance the Warriors and Spurs meet in the Western Conference finals and a 94 percent chance that either the Warriors or Spurs makes the finals.

The Spurs end up as the Western Conference No. 1 seed in 30 percent of BPI simulations. If the Spurs host the Warriors in the conference finals, BPI gives them a 63 percent chance to win the series.