Latest posts by Don McCormack (see all)
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It would seem the Golden State Warriors need not set specific goals for a regular season.
However, as is usually the case, what seems to be true often isn’t.
The defending NBA champions, who’ve been to three consecutive Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, winning twice, were beaten, 116-108, by the Houston Rockets on Saturday night in one of the most entertaining games of the 2017-18 season.
The day after, the Warriors (37-10) admitted they now have a specific focus — securing homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
Even after the loss Saturday night, Golden State still holds a 3.5-game lead on Houston (32-12) in the race not only for the best record in the Western Conference, but also for the best record in the league.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated doing so as “probably the No. 1 goal.”
“We always emphasize home court. We know how tough it is to win at Oracle for an opposing team,” Kerr said. “We know the importance of having a Game 7 at home. We talk about it every year.”
Ironically, the one time Golden State was forced to a decisive Game 7 by Cleveland, the Cavaliers defeated them at Oracle Arena to win the 2016 title.
All of Kerr’s players are not singing the same tune, however.
“Home court will take care of itself down the road,” Draymond Green said after the loss in Houston on Saturday night, a win that gave the Rockets what could be an important tiebreaker should they wind up with the same record as the Warriors. The victory clinched the regular-season series for Houston against Golden State, 2-1.
“The season starts over when you’re in the playoffs, anyway,” Kevin Durant said after the game. “You’re going to have to get to these teams to get to where you want to go. You got to play at home and on the road. It really don’t matter. We just want to be playing good basketball when it comes down to that point.”
Golden State has actually been the better team on the road this season. The loss at Houston snapped a 14-game road winning streak, the third-longest in NBA history.
For the season, the Warriors are 16-6 at Oracle, but an impressive 21-4 away from home. The 16-6 home mark is already worse than what Golden State posted in its friendly confines in each of the past three seasons — 39-2 in 2014-15, 39-2 in 2015-16 and 36-5 last season.
“Actually, I feel better on the road than I do at home right now,” the affable Kerr said through a laugh. “But that’ll change.”
Stephen Curry disagreed with teammates Green and Durant after the loss in Houston on the importance of securing homecourt advantage through the playoffs.
“It’s extremely important,” he said. “This game gives them the tiebreaker. But we, hopefully, won’t be in that position down the stretch of the season.
“But we will continue to focus on building momentum toward the playoffs and continue to win games and give ourselves homecourt advantage throughout. That’s important to us. We’re still in control of that.
“No panic on that front.”