Prior to facing the Blazers on Sunday night, the Golden State Warriors had really struggled at home the last couple weeks.
When fans think of Oracle Arena, they think of the best home court advantage in the entire NBA. Oracle Arena and Warriors’ fans showed the world how exciting that atmosphere was in Oakland in their surprising postseason run last year.
This season, the Warriors were supposed to be elite and it was supposed to start on the defensive end. However, they have lost their defensive edge that they had earlier in the season and it was never more evident than their prior three games at home.
They lost all three games, allowing 35 or more in the first quarter of each game. The Warriors had been rolling, winning ten consecutive games, but much of that damage was against inferior teams. The three teams they lost to at home were the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves, all teams that are fighting for playoff spots or seeding in their respective conferences.
In each game, the Warriors got off to slow starts on the defensive end and even with the firepower they have on offense and atmosphere of Oracle Arena, they could not dig themselves out of those holes.
The first game was against the Nuggets, when Denver shot lights out at almost 55 percent for the game and outrebounding the Warriors as well, a rare sight this season. The Nuggets took advantage of the Warriors when Andrew Bogut was out of the game, relentlessly driving to the hoop and grabbing offensive rebounds when the Warriors were mounting their comeback.
The Warriors allowed open threes to the likes of Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye and Nate Robinson, something that the old Warriors would do from years past, but this team has been one of the best teams in opponents three-point percentage. Overall, it was the worst defensive game of the season.
The Pacers matchup was much different, but started out the same exact way. Once again, they got off to a slow start on the defensive end and played decently for the rest of the game. But against the best defensive team in the NBA, the Warriors struggled shooting the ball. The Warriors ended up shooting just 41 percent from the field, well below their season average and losing the game, 102-94.
The game against the Timberwolves may have been the most puzzling loss because the Warriors shot 55 percent from the field and their superstar point guard had 33 points and 15 assists. How do you lose a game like this? The same ways you lose the previous two: getting off to a slow start at the defensive end, getting out-rebounded and allowing uncontested threes.
It seems like the Warriors reversed these trends with their convincing win over the Blazers on Sunday. They got off to a great start, leading 28-22 at the end of the first quarter. They stopped the Blazers stars, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, who had possibly their worst games of the season. They contested every three, caused turnovers and had their best defensive game of the season. The Blazers shot just 34 percent from the field, 29 percent from three point range and scored a season-low 88 points.
If the Warriors can continue these trends on the defensive end, they should be much more consistent at home and with the firepower they have on offense, they will be an elite team in the Western Conference that no one will want to face in the postseason.