LOS ANGELES - In their pursuit of a third straight title, the Warriors have frequently failed to bring the required focus in a season that's been marred by curious losses -- particularly at home.
Two days ago - with a chance to close out the Clippers in Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series - the Warriors surrendered a potential closeout win, looking disengaged along the way.
While Wednesday's performance was a continuation of their regular season home duds, Golden State has frequently found comfort in opposing environments, achieving some of their biggest wins away from Oracle Arena. Now back in Los Angeles for Game 6, the Warriors are hoping their road magic continues.
"I think on the road you're just naturally more on edge," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following shootaround Friday morning. "You have a little more appropriate fear [and] respect."
In perhaps the most difficult year of the Kerr era - one marred by injury, all-star disenchantment and the uncertainty of Kevin Durant's future - the Warriors have seemed to find solace outside of Oakland. Last month, following a pair of curious home losses to the reeling Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, the Warriors used the road to regroup, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves in convincing fashion.
Still, lapses have been apparent all season. Frequently, the champs are prone to uninterested play, especially against a team they don't respect.
"I'm not sure we've ever felt threatened in the regular season," Kerr said. "But the playoffs are a different deal and we know that."
The curious play trickled into the postseason. In Games 1 and 2 against the Clippers, the Warriors turned the ball over a combined 43 times, helping the Clippers overcome a 31 point lead to steal Game 2.
The Warriors' game shifted when the two teams traveled back to Los Angeles. Durant, who played a facilitator role in Oakland, averaged 35.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in Los Angeles. Klay Thompson also found his jumper, hitting his first seven shots of Game 4, ending with 32 points - giving little doubt the Warriors were back on track.
On Wednesday, the road equity crumbled in Oracle Arena, when the Clippers outrebounded, outhustled and outplayed the Warriors behind 83 combined points from Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and Danilo Gallinari.
"It was a perfect storm for the Clippers last game. We came out with s--tty energy to start." I wouldn't say s--tty but more so a little more relaxed than we were to start the game."
The Warriors have been here before, one the road with a chance to close out a series and with the Houstons Rockets back in the Bay waiting for a rematch, Friday night at Staples Center will provide the most opportune time for the Warriors to tap into whatever road magic they have left this season.
"This is our fifth year doing it - for several of the guys it's like their seventh year straight year in the playoffs so we know what this feels like," Kerr said. We've been here before."