SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry received up from the ground shortly after being fouled, seemed in direction of the gang — clad in yellow T-shirts with the phrases “coldblooded” written on them — and will need to have thought they weren’t as excited as they need to have been. .
He waved his arms and yelled — then screamed twice extra for good measure — and the white-knuckled Warriors crowd responded with a roar, accepting his path unquestioningly, an orchestra following its conductor.
Curry’s Golden State Warriors had entered Thursday night time’s sport, the third of their first-round playoff collection in opposition to the Sacramento Kings, in an uncomfortable spot. They had been dealing with their first 2-0 playoff deficit since Steve Kerr started teaching them in 2014. They had been with out Draymond Green, their defensive anchor and do-it-all ahead, whom the NBA had suspended for stepping on the chest of Kings ahead Domantas. Sabonis in Game 2 on Monday.
But as they’ve all season, the Warriors figured it out on their house ground, holding the league’s highest-scoring offense underneath 100 factors for under the fifth time this season within the 114-97 victory. The Kings nonetheless lead the collection, 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday. But it, too, is at Golden State, and for that purpose alone the Warriors had been feeling the collection was removed from over.
“We all the time play nice at house,” Klay Thompson mentioned. “We received to get one on the highway; we perceive. But we all know what we’re succesful of on this constructing. We gained a championship right here. We’re succesful of something.”
Pick any of Curry’s baskets on Thursday night time — the six 3-pointers, the assorted layups and jumpers that made up his game-high 36 factors — and see that shortly after every rating he appeared to carry the gang in his palms: posing, dancing , directing.
It was a luxurious Curry didn’t get pleasure from within the first two video games of this collection in Sacramento, when the Warriors had the look of a staff in bother. After the victory, Curry pointed to the Warriors’ shortcomings on the highway within the first reply of his information convention.
“We’ve proven that regardless of our self-inflicted wounds with turnovers and giving up offensive rebounds, that we’re succesful of beating that staff any night time,” he mentioned. “It’s simply good to have one thing to indicate for it now.”
Whatever momentum the Warriors created might propel them to a different win in Game 4. It stays puzzling, although, how that momentum appears to vanish as quickly as they step off their house ground.
The Warriors had been 33-8 at San Francisco’s Chase Center within the common season, a house file bettered this season solely by the Denver Nuggets (34-7) and the Memphis Grizzlies (35-6), the highest two groups within the Western Conference. . On the highway, nonetheless, Golden State was a dreadful 11-30.
Struggles on the highway are sometimes reserved for younger and inexperienced groups. The undeniable fact that the Warriors’ championship-tested core — Thompson, Curry, Green and Kerr — has carried out so poorly on the highway may need been the season’s most curious contradiction.
The statistics supply a clue: The Warriors merely do not play adequate protection on the highway, the place they allowed greater than 10 factors a sport (122.4) greater than they did at house (111.7). No different staff within the league has greater than a 6.9 differential. (Offensively, the Warriors do not appear to overlook a beat away from house, the place their scoring averages on the highway (119.7) and at house (118.2) are solely fractionally totally different.
The problem isn’t a secret contained in the Warriors’ locker room.
“If you are poor defensively, it is actually laborious to win on the highway,” Kerr mentioned in November. “You want to have the ability to string collectively stops to get momentum and preserve the house crowd out of it. If you are buying and selling baskets, the opposite staff’s feeling good, it is simply actually laborious to win the win that method. So the highway file is instantly linked to the protection.”
He returned to the purpose in March, saying of his staff’s middling file, “We know that the reply to all that is in our protection.”
On Thursday night time, there have been three prevailing chants contained in the Chase Center: “boos” for Sabonis; roars of “Looon” for ahead Kevon Looney; and chants of “MVP!” every time Curry approached the free-throw line. Kerr mentioned the development of the world inbuilt 2019, with a decrease roof, makes for a extra “intimate crowd.”
“The roof isn’t sky excessive like loads of the brand new arenas,” Kerr mentioned, including: “You can really feel the gang. They are proper on high of you.”
Eventually, although, the Warriors, the No. 6 seed within the West, are going to must win a sport on the highway to progress anyplace on this postseason, together with out of the primary spherical. “Until somebody wins a highway sport, everybody’s simply holding serve,” Kerr mentioned.
Trading house wins is simply as unforgiving because the Warriors’ file. Kerr and his gamers will know they should discover a method to change it. Fast.
Scott Cacciola contributed reporting.