OAKLAND – Every time the Warriors step on the floor at home it is with total belief they’ll win, thereby satisfying themselves as well as the roaring sellout crowds at Oracle Arena.
That they managed only a split of the first two games of the NBA Finals last week left them disappointed. They’ll be out to reassert their homecourt authority when they meet the Cleveland Cavaliers for Game 5 on Sunday.
“Well, two games, we didn't play particularly well in either one,” coach Steve Kerr said Saturday. “We could have lost both. We could have won both."
Games 1 and 2 both went into overtime, with the Warriors taking the opener but the Cavs coming back three nights later to even things. The Warriors have lost two of their last seven at home, which isn’t bad unless measured against their franchise-record 39-2 home mark in the regular season.
The Warriors opened each round with two home games, taking six of eight. Prior to splitting with Cleveland, their wins over Houston were by a combined five points, they split with Memphis and, in the first round, endured a few nervous moments against New Orleans.
“If you look at the entire playoffs, the first two games at home have been a struggle,” Kerr said. “Part of that is just trying to adapt to your opponent and get a feel for what they're doing. Easing into the series. Not easing in, but trying to get a grasp on what you're wanting to accomplish.”
But with any anxieties from making their first trip to The Finals swept out with the first two games, the Warriors are out to make amends. They believe they’ll be more comfortable with the surrounding pomp and pageantry.
“We will for sure, but I think all that was kind of left in the first half of Game 1,” Stephen Curry said. “We obviously didn't play well in Game 2. But I don't think it had anything to do with the excitement of playing at home in a Finals situation, because I think we settled in pretty well. We just didn't make any shots, didn't play well and didn't come with enough energy.
“But I think we're going to be really composed, really aggressive. We're going to feed off our crowd's energy (Sunday), which we're going to need because that's why you play so hard during the regular season, to have home court advantage to be able to capitalize off of that in situations like these.”
To a man, the Warriors came away from their 103-82 win in Game 4 – their second postseason win by more than 20, both on the road – convinced the kinks are going and they are ready to give the home crowd what it wants.
“It's going to be a big momentum swing, whoever wins Game 5,” forward David Lee said. “That is pretty obvious with the series being 2-2. But we're not really worried about the result as much as we've got to come out and play the way we played in Game 4, and that is play Warriors basketball.
“We've got to be aggressive and play with the kind of effort we did (in Game 4). I think if we do that, being back at home or wherever we play, I think that good things will happen.”