Warriors Clinch Home-Court Advantage Throughout Western Conference Playoffs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 08: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after a play with teammates Stephen Curry #30 and Draymond Green #23 after a play against the Denver Nuggets at ORACLE Arena on March 8, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Western Conference will run through Oracle Arena.

With the Golden State Warriors' 131-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, the reigning NBA champions clinched the top seed in the West, thus guaranteeing them home-court advantage until the NBA Finals.

Getting to this point wasn't without some difficulty for Golden State.

Back in November, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant had an argument on the court that later spilled over into the locker room. The Warriors suspended Green for one game, and the situation became an avenue through which some pondered the long-term suitability of the team's current roster.

Ultimately, Green and Durant smoothed things over, making their argument largely a footnote in the season.

"We sat down and rapped," Green said to ESPN.com's Nick Friedell. "And that's it. It ain't really about re-creating the wheel. Brothers get into it all the time. Y'all sit down and y'all figure it out, ain't nobody else going to figure it out for you. Can't nobody else figure it out for you. We sit down as men, we figure it out and we move forward."

More than anything, the Warriors struggled with the sense of regular-season complacency that can creep in when you've won three championships in four years.

Golden State's .700 winning percentage is the lowest under head coach Steve Kerr, and it's the fourth straight year in which the team's win total declined. Even Oracle Arena wasn't the same kind of fortress it had been in recent seasons.

Following a 128-95 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Celtics on March 5, Kerr said he had spoken with his players about trying to end the regular season on a high note in order to make the final year at Oracle Arena feel a little more special, per Friedell:

"Our team dinner that we do every year before camp starts. It's a big part of our theme. And we've let our fans down many times this year at home, particularly on nights that are big ones, against great teams, national TV [games]. So something we've discussed the last two days: What's our purpose? Why are we doing this? I think we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our fans, and particularly to our fans in Oakland, to give them our best stuff for the coming months."

Five days after the loss to the Celtics, the Warriors fell to the lowly Phoenix Suns at home. After the game, Klay Thompson was critical of the effort by Warriors fans.

Just as the Warriors players are clearly holding something back at times on the court in preparation for the postseason, the same could be true of the fans. For anybody who followed Golden State for the last four years, mustering a ton of excitement for a random game in March might not be easy.

That almost certainly won't be the case when the playoffs begin. Oracle Arena is bound to transform into a cauldron for opposing players.

Beating the Warriors over a seven-game series will be hard enough for their West rivals. Toppling Golden State is now even more difficult after the team secured home-court advantage.

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