Warriors

The most significant reason behind the Warriors' success on the road is...

The most significant reason behind the Warriors' success on the road is...

A sentiment that surely would have seemed improbable, as well as illogical, as recently as last season for the Warriors yet now seems perfectly explicable.

They actually play better on the road than they do at Oracle Arena, where they have twice as many losses. Home record: 16-6. Road record: 21-3.

And while there are several reasons behind the road success, none is more significant than the Warriors realizing the challenge is greater when they’re away from the comforts of home.

As much as they appreciate being showered with love at Oracle, they seem slightly more motivated to put on an awesome show for strangers while sending a hush though enemy territory.

There is little doubt the Warriors enjoyed Wednesday night, when they won in the building Michael Jordan built. In defeating the Chicago Bulls 119-112 at United Center, the Warriors won their 14th consecutive road game, tying a franchise mark set during their record-setting 73-win season.

A win Saturday at Houston would surpass the franchise record. With a win over the Rockets, followed by another win in their next road game, Jan. 30 at Utah, the Warriors would tie the NBA record of 16 in a row set by the Lakers in 1971-72.

They would then be in position to break the record on Feb. 2 at Sacramento.

“It’s exciting,” Klay Thompson told reporters in Chicago. “We’re not going to think about the record because you don’t want to put pressure on yourself. But that would definitely be something cool to have.”

With a goal in sight, the Warriors have a compelling reason to lock in every time they step onto the opposing team’s court. Owning the longest road win streak in NBA history is one more achievement to validate their greatness. And they definitely care about being among the greatest teams in league history.

But any team that has accomplished as much as the Warriors have over the past three seasons needs a challenge to stir the senses. They’ve won two championships. They’ve set records for most wins in a single season, most wins over a three-season span and best postseason win percentage.

That’s enough to strip away any pretense that all 82 regular-season games require their full and undivided attention. As Draymond Green conceded the other day, after a home loss, any thought that they can have the same focus and intensity for every game is “not realistic.”

That’s particularly true when the Warriors are at home. Once the most imposing arena in the league, it’s now a place where they are susceptible to lapses in concentration and ferocity. They’ve done a lot of winning at Oracle. They’re fans have seen a lot of winning at Oracle. It’s almost part of the routine.

Which opens the door to vulnerability. Aside from the opening-night loss to the Rockets, the Warriors’ home losses have come against teams to simply trying to get into the playoffs (the Pistons, the Nuggets, the Clippers) or teams just as likely to be playing golf in April (the Kings and the Hornets).

On the road, though, with the singular exception of Memphis in Week 1, the Warriors are pretty good at beating the teams they fully expected to beat. The other two losses were at Boston and Oklahoma City.

The Warriors won without Kevin Durant two weeks ago at Houston, which was without MVP candidate James Harden. When the teams meet on Saturday, Harden, should he play at all, will be on a minutes restriction, while starting forward Trevor Ariza and Sixth Man Gerald Green will be on suspension.

“It’s going to be a very tough game Saturday, probably the toughest on the trip,” Thompson said. “If we can go undefeated on this road trip, that would also be incredible. And if we could get that next road win, that would also be incredible.”

They want it. They’ll chase it, too. Not with the sheer fury they possessed throughout their 73-win season, but with utter desire to meet the challenge that comes with winning in places tougher than home.

An unsettling thought for Warriors: Iguodala could miss more than one game

An unsettling thought for Warriors: Iguodala could miss more than one game

OAKLAND -- The Hamptons 5 will not be appearing Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was ruled out two hours before tipoff against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena.

About 15 minutes before tip-off, the team announced that Kevon Looney would start in place of Iguodala.

It’s a massive loss for the Warriors, as Iguodala had started the last five games, alongside Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green,

“He’s a great defender,” coach Steve Kerr said of Iguodala, who led all non-guards in assist-to-turnover ratio. “He’s an organizer. He’s a guy who settles us down. He continuously makes the right play. We’ll miss all of that.”

More unsettling for the Warriors, there is no timetable for Iguodala’s return.

“If he was close, he would play,” Kerr said. “He’s injured, so he’s no gonna play. We’ll see what happens in a couple days.”

Iguodala sustained a contusion just below his left knee after a knee-on-knee collision with Rockets star James Harden in the fourth quarter of Game 3 on Sunday. Iguodala left the game shortly afterward and did not return.

He did not practice on Monday, opting for treatment that morning and afternoon, as well as more treatment on Tuesday morning.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Oakland -- Tuesday, May 22nd at 6pm
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Andre Iguodala ruled out for Game 4 against Rockets

Andre Iguodala ruled out for Game 4 against Rockets

UPDATE (4:15pm on Tuesday): Andre Iguodala will not play in Game 4, Steve Kerr announced to the media.

***

OAKLAND -- Already bracing for a difficult test Tuesday night when they meet the Rockets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors may be forced to make yet another lineup change in their effort to take a commanding 3-1 lead.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus begins at 4 p.m. with Warriors Outsiders, with tipoff at Oracle Arena scheduled for 6 p.m. Pacific.

The Warriors have utilized four different starting lineups this postseason, and a fifth might be needed. It’s possible that Andre Iguodala, who has started 12 of 13 games, including the last five in a row, won’t be available.

Iguodala's status has improved, however, to questionable. He was listed as doubtful on Monday.

[RELATED: Warriors brief: Why Jordan Bell is a candidate to start in place of Andre Iguodala]

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 8.5

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. James Harden: They won’t be assigned to each other, but no two players are more likely to dictate the outcome of this game. Each has experienced moments both shining and forgettable. Once the Warriors established a lead in Game 3, Curry got behind the wheel and floored it, resulting in a rout. Houston needs a Harden takeover game. Is he up to it?

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) is listed as questionable. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries listed.

GAME OFFICIALS

Mike Callahan, Kane Fitzgerald, Derrick Stafford, Sean Wright (alternate)

THE TALLY

Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston Game 3: Warriors 126, Rockets 85 at Oakland

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing, 116-108, on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE LINEUP: If Iguodala is out, the Warriors have three viable options. Going with Kevon Looney at center seems most likely, but it’s possible Nick Young will make his third start of the postseason. The third option is Jordan Bell, who is inexperienced but the best physical matchup with Rockets big man Clint Capela.

THE START: When the Warriors went ahead late in the first quarter of Game 3, with the crowd roaring at ear-splitting levels, the Rockets cracked a little more each minute. Down nine after one quarter, they never got closer than seven after that. The second half score, 72-42, is indicative of a team that lost its resolve.

WARRIORS D: The Warriors were disciplined in Game 3, during which their defense alternated from sound to terrific. They forced 20 turnovers and limited Houston’s top three scorers to 16-of-45 shooting from the field, including 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. Similar success would practically assure a victory.