Warriors’ new home proves to be tough venue for visitors
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — From the memorable “We Believe” playoff run in 2007 to the early days of this current Golden State dynasty, the ear-shattering environment at old Oracle Arena provided a major boost to the Warriors.
While the fancy new digs across the bay in San Francisco might not match the noise level at the arena in Oakland nicknamed “Roaracle,” Chase Center is really starting to feel like home for the Warriors in its third season.
“Every single night, I get chills when I walk into the arena,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said. “I literally get chills. I love it. I love basketball. I’ve loved it all my life. For over 50 years, I’ve been going to games. I’ve been to every arena in the world. To me, there is no better arena in the world than this Chase Center. It just needs the experiences like this one to kind of give it that history which Oracle had. … We love this building, our players love this building, our partners love this building. And it’s showing up pretty, pretty well.”
The Warriors have won all nine games this postseason at Chase Center, including clinching victories in each round over Denver, Memphis and Dallas. It’s their second-longest home winning streak in a single postseason, behind their 10-0 mark in 2017, and just the fifth time in NBA history that a team has gone 9-0 or better leading into the Finals.
Golden State has outscored the opposition by 14.6 points per game at home, the best in the league this postseason, as the loud crowd and comfortable environment has proved beneficial.
“Being able to start at home is huge, especially in the playoffs, even in the Finals,” guard Jordan Poole said. “We have our home crowd, our home routine, the same thing we do practice wise. Just continue to try to take care of business at home, as we’ve done all playoffs.”
It took time for Chase Center to establish itself after the Warriors moved there following the 2018-19 season. With some of the longtime fans from Oakland priced out of more expensive new arena in place of newer fans without the same lifelong attachment to the franchise, the environment struggled to match the old one across the bay.
Other circumstances didn’t help the cause either. Golden State had the worst record in the NBA that first season as stars like Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry missed most of it.
The team fared better last season but played most of it in an empty arena because of the COVID-19 pandemic before having small crowds by the end of the season.
But the arena has been full this season and now is hosting its first truly meaningful games this postseason. Early in this playoff run, Curry said the Warriors were still “trying to find (Chase Center’s) identity.”
“After two years of not having fans (always), you can really tell the difference now when you have a full crowd and it’s going crazy,” big man Kevon Looney said. ”I’m glad that the Chase Center is rocking like this and the fans have been really giving us this extra boost.”
Playing on the road is far from a daunting task for the Celtics, who are coming off a Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference finals at Miami after staving off elimination in the second round with a Game 6 win at Milwaukee.
In all, Boston has won seven of nine games on the road during these playoffs, beating the Nets and Bucks twice each and the Heat three times.
They are the fourth team to win seven games before the Finals at an opponent’s arena, joining the 2017 Cavaliers, who lost to the Warriors in the Finals that season and the 1981 and ’95 Rockets.
Only Houston in 1995 won it all of those previous teams, winning the first two games in Orlando on the way to a sweep.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports