Warriors face two ‘tough' challenges vs. Pelicans at Chase Center

Warriors face two ‘tough' challenges vs. Pelicans at Chase Center originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

After winning nine of 10 games, the Warriors ought to feel good about the way they’re closing the 2023-24 NBA season. They’ve moved into ninth place in the Western Conference, with a chance to rise to a considerably more desirable eighth.

They come home Friday night to confront their peskiest and most surprising challenger this season: Chase Center.

For more than five months, the shiny building by the bay has been the Warriors’ mystifying, maddening house of tribulation. They have yet to master their castle. And, oh, how they have tried.

They have two more opportunities before the curtain falls on the regular season.

They close the schedule with two home games, the first Friday night against the dangerous New Orleans Pelicans in a game with huge implications. Being at Chase should bring a measure of comfort to the Warriors and every citizen within Dub Nation. That’s how the NBA usually works. Every team in the history of the league prioritizes building a homecourt advantage.

The Warriors are 20-19 at Chase, climbing above .500 last Sunday by beating the Utah Jazz, who had lost their last 13 games. Golden State has lost home games to elite teams, like the defending champion Denver Nuggets (twice) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (twice in a three-day span). The Warriors also lost home games to sub-.500 opponents like the Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.

Meanwhile, the Warriors borderline elite on the road, finishing their regular-season road schedule Thursday night with a 25-16 record after a 100-92 win over the Trail Blazers in Portland.

“It kept us alive all year,” Stephen Curry, referring to Golden State’s success on the road, told media at Moda Center.

The Warriors have won 17 of their last 21 road games. They leave Chase and become bullies.

“We’ve been great on the road all year,” Kevon Looney said. “But now it's time to take care of homecourt the last two games. We need to be better there.”

The difference is stark. The Warriors have won at New York, at Oklahoma City and at New Orleans – but are a combined 0-4 against those teams at Chase.

Golden State’s home/road splits have been a constant topic of discussion and a frequent line of inquiry. Player by player, coach by coach, the answers have been some form of “I have no idea.”

But rookie Brandin Podziemski, offering his explanation of the team’s road success, might have shed light on the home struggles when addressing media after the win over the Blazers.

“I think the road record shows how together we are, our collectivity, what our relationships are like off the court,” he said. “You use that on the road because we're the only ones we got out there. Everybody's against us.

“That road record kind of speaks volumes of our relationships with each other.”

Road trips are automatic bonding opportunities. Teams fly together, take buses together, shop together, explore together and sleep under the same five-star roof. Team dinners are routine.

It is at home that individuals tend to splinter into their own separate spaces. Some players live in proximity, including the same apartment building. Some live several cities or counties apart. Being at home provides ample time and space for individual adventure.

That was an advantage last season. Space was needed. Team chemistry never fully recovered from the shocking sight of Draymond Green roughing up Jordan Poole during a preseason practice. Whenever that team went on the road, certain walls went up.

Chase Center last season was a sober place of business. Folks came in, went to work and usually got the job done. The Warriors owned their house, posting a 33-8 record at Chase. They were 11-30 on the road.

This season, the house has been consistently vulnerable. And here come the Pelicans, whose 27-14 road record is equaled only by the Boston Celtics, who have the best overall record (62-18) in the league.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Looney said. “It's going to be fun. At Chase, you know it's going to be rocking, almost like a playoff-like atmosphere.”

The building will be buzzing with anxiety tethered to hope. The first of two more games for the Warriors to make a stand, to plant their flag and not let an opponent knock it down.

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