SAN FRANCISCO – The ambitious plan for Chase Center to replicate the indomitable soul and fearsome spirit of Oracle Arena took a giant leap Friday night when the Warriors completed the first and most important step.
A full month of perfection at Chase.
With a 118-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Warriors concluded their November home schedule with nine wins in nine games, generating a sense of momentum at the 3-year-old building.
“For sure,” Stephen Curry said after producing 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. “With that eight-game homestand (Oct. 28-Nov. 12) we had a really good opportunity to create a sustained effort.
“We started the season talking about trying to create an identity here because everybody compares it to Oracle and our history (in Oakland). But this is a different place. And you have to establish a different presence and identity and atmosphere here. And we have to do our part to win games.”
When coach Steve Kerr was outlining priorities for this season, taking ownership of the home court was at the top of the list. The Warriors were 8-26 at home in a disastrous inaugural season and improved to 25-11 in Year 2, approaching the success rate they were accustomed to during the old days at Oracle.
The goal, however, was to get back to that level. The Warriors posted a 39-2 record at Oracle in 2014-15 while racing to their first championship in 40 years and followed it with another 39-2 home mark during their NBA-record 73-win season in 2015-16.
The Warriors are 11-1 at home, the only loss coming against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first of eight consecutive games at Chase. In the 10 home games since, they have gone on a rampage of destruction, winning every game by double digits – with an average victory margin of 20 points.
“We have a really good team. That’s the main thing,” Kerr said. “If you’re good and you can defend like we are defending, then you will win a lot of home games.
“I love the way we have established that early on the season. Our fans feel it. We can hear our fans every night. We hear the noise, energy and excitement. We’re building something with our fan base this year that’s really special.”
Where the growth is most evident is in the seats within the band of rows just above court level, which lead directly to lavishly furnished suites – “courtside lounges” – beneath. In each of the first two seasons at Chase, most fans would be visible until halftime, when they headed for the lounges and stayed out of sight for the duration of the game. The result was a sparsely populated sections five rows off the floor.
In the last couple games, though, most of those seats were refilled after the halftime with fans who were as engaged as those sitting near the top of the lower bowl and throughout the nether reaches of the place.
“It’s different given that we are in a different building than we were a few years ago when we were on top of the league,” Kerr said. “This feels fresh and new and after the last couple of years, we’ve earned this and our fans have earned this too.”
Stacking wins, particularly at home, is the best way for the Warriors to pursue the decibel limits of Chase Center. Holding the best home record in the league is where the rise to elite status began seven years ago, and it’s part of the start where the Warriors hope to go this season.
“It's always fun to play at home especially when you have fans like the ones that we have,” said Juan Toscano-Anderson. “They bring energy every night. We’re a fun team, a bunch of guys who are bringing energy, cheering for one another. It’s something special.”
It was a couple weeks ago that Curry said, diplomatically, that trying to draw parallels between the experience at Chase and that which existed at Oracle was “an unfair comparison.” He cited the rise of the gradual franchise under the ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, which led to three NBA championships in four years.
The comparison remains unfair, and will be at least until a banner is earned at Chase.
But the rumble is getting louder and the engagement tighter, suggesting the new place is making a sincere effort to reach the standard set by the old.