OAKLAND -- Entering the postseason without the No. 1 overall seed for the first time under Steve Kerr, the Warriors claimed this new challenge, coming after bouts of tedium in the regular season, might be beneficial.
So they shrugged it off, saying that earning homecourt advantage throughout was, for this particular postseason, not the priority.
After splitting Games 1 and 2 against the Rockets in Houston, the Warriors now have it for the duration of their postseason run, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday. The defending champs can’t be dethroned unless a team wins at least one game at Oracle Arena.
Can the Warriors make that as difficult for opponents as it once was?
They seem to believe they can, and Kerr points to Curry as one of the reasons.
“Steph and Oracle, it’s a good combination,” he said.
Once that comment was relayed to him, Curry took it a step further.
“The Warriors at Oracle are different,” he said.
The numbers, at least this season, serve to support Kerr more than Curry. His numbers, almost across the board, were slightly better at home. His scoring and assist averages were roughly the same, but all of his shooting percentages ticked upward while his turnover totals went down.
Oracle may be the remedy Curry needs. And if so, he may have to bring his teammates along.
After three seasons relative invincibility at home, the Warriors this season lost that sense of superiority. Following home records of 39-2, 39-2 and 36-5 over Kerr’s first three seasons, they were 29-12, exactly the same as on the road. Home losses to such sub-mediocre teams as Detroit and Charlotte and Sacramento (twice!) have a way of stripping away any and all edge.
Dropping home games to vastly inferior teams -- even if those teams are healthier -- are more the result of regular-season boredom than a sudden seismic shift. The playoffs are a different monster, and the Warriors know it.
The Warriors are 6-0 at home in these playoffs, with an average win margin of 13.3 points. They were 9-0 at home in the 2017 postseason, with an average margin of 16.9 points. Their 15-game win streak in home playoff games is a franchise record and ties them with the Bulls teams of the early 1990s for the NBA record.
“We have better pace at home,” Kerr said. “We just do. I don’t know why. It seems to be a universal dynamic in basketball. The home team generally gets a little more edge, a little more energy from the crowd and plays a little faster. And the way we play, that seems to be accentuated.”
Those are among the reasons the Warriors are solid favorites for Game 3. They want to make amends for the unbecoming effort displayed in Game 2, but the postseason atmosphere at Oracle is special.
“The crowd helps a lot, helps a ton,” Klay Thompson said.
“We all love playing in front of our home crowd,” Curry said. “If we had a choice of where you want to play, we’d choose Oracle every day of the week.
“We’ve always talked about... even when we start a series out at home, you start off well and go on the road and maybe split. When you come home for that Game 5, it’s not just showing up at home that means you’re going to walk into a win. You’ve got to have the right execution and the right mindset going in to allow the crowd to be into it, to allow the fireworks to start.”
The Warriors, it could be said, owe the Rockets one. It was Houston that came into Oracle on opening night, roughly seven months ago, and spoiled the evening on which the Warriors received their championship rings.
The Rockets not only won but did so in perhaps the most impressive way possible, falling behind by 13 entering the fourth quarter and then chasing down the Warriors. That kind of meltdown doesn’t happen to team that owns its house.
If the Warriors still own their house, it’ll become apparent in Game 3. They didn’t seek homecourt advantage, but now they have it. As much as they earned it, it’s only as valuable as they make it.
||Warriors 119, Rockets 106
||Rockets 127, Warriors 105
||Oakland -- Sunday, May 20th at 5 p.m.
||Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6 p.m.
||Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6 p.m.
||Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)
||Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6 p.m. (if necessary)