Programming note: Hornets-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
OAKLAND – The chip has been on Stephen Curry's shoulder since high school, put there by the major colleges that rejected him, and if you poke him just right you'll feel the raging fire behind the cool, smooth façade.
Don't be surprised if the fire appears Saturday night when Curry and the Warriors face the Charlotte Hornets at Oracle Arena. Curry grew up rooting for the Hornets. His father, Dell, was an original member of the team and now works as an analyst on telecasts. Steph has hundreds of friends and family in the Charlotte area.
"It is big, knowing that through Time-Warner Cable in Charlotte, they get to watch," Curry said of his fans in North Carolina. "Having my dad and his partner call the game is pretty special. I can always look over to the sideline and see him there with a headset on. That's something I look forward to, especially being the Hornets again. It means a lot to my family, with my dad being an original Hornet. It's pretty special."
So there is more at stake, at least for Curry, than the usual desire to win. This performance will be infused with pride. But that's not all.
Only two teams swept the Warriors last season. The Spurs did it as a matter of routine. The Hornets, then the Bobcats, did it because they could.
The Bobcats won last December at Charlotte, with Kemba Walker besting Curry down the stretch of a close game before hundreds of Curry's family members and friends. Two months later, in February, the Bobcats came into Oracle and spanked a flat Warriors team by 16 in perhaps the most disappointing loss of the season.
This is not the kind of thing that would be forgotten by the overlooked prep who has blossomed into an All-Star.
"That's (Curry's) home city, that's the team his dad played for and the team he grew up watching," Klay Thompson said Saturday morning. "And he's got to have bragging rights on his pops."
Those sour memories will be on Curry's mind Saturday, if not while Dell Curry visits his son's family then certainly after Steph drives his dad to Oracle that afternoon.
Stephen Curry's chip is always there, and sometimes it's practically visible. This might be one of those times.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Andrew Bogut vs. Al Jefferson -- Bogut goes from skilled offensive center Brook Lopez to Big Al, who has the sweetest footwork of any big man in the league. Bogut won't see a tougher one-on-one challenge all season.
Curry vs. Walker -- There is a touch of the personal when these two hook up. Things get kind of territorial when the tough dude from the Bronx tangles with the guy who had the comfortable upbringing and has become one of the league's favorite stars.
Thompson vs. Lance Stephenson -- Stephenson is a fabulous talent whose emotions and game run hot and cold. Thompson's task will be to keep him cooled. Stephenson is a terrific defender, when he's in the mood.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Shift into overdrive and stay there. The Hornets would rather not play fast, particularly on the second night of a back-to-back set.
2) Keep the big boys on the court. Jefferson is a master at drawing fouls, so Bogut and his backups must be careful.
3) Crush the seconds. Gary Neal is playing well off the bench, but he alone shouldn't be able to offset the Warriors' vastly superior second unit.
The Warriors on Saturday recalled forward Justin Holiday and center Ognjen Kuzmic after they spent Friday with the Development League Santa Cruz Warriors.
Warriors – F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is out indefinitely and expects to be reevaluated next week.
Hornets – G Lance Stephenson (groin strain), G Gary Neal (bruised left foot) and F Marvin Williams (left knee soreness) are listed as questionable, but all three played Friday night in Phoenix. F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (right foot stress reaction) is out.
The Warriors were swept last season by the Hornets, in their final season as the Bobcats, but swept Charlotte in 2012-13. The Warriors have lost seven of the last 10 meetings.