The Reporter (Vacaville)



they let the Thunder run out to a double-digit lead to start the game, and then, after a run of their own, let OKC build up a 14-point lead in the second quarter.

The Warriors lost both games. They are truly great guests: Not only do they fill the stands, but they also give the home team every opportunit­y to win.

The Warriors will keep losing games — particular­ly on the road — if they don't stop being so generous to their opponents.

“I wish I knew. If I knew, I would obviously tell the team what was happening,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the loss to Oklahoma City. “But the slow starts have been really consistent. We changed the starting lineup tonight and it didn't make any difference. We still fell way behind right away.”

The sky is not falling.

The Warriors are still in the thick of the playoff race. That five-game winning streak last week put them in the Western Conference's top six — if the season ended today, they'd avoid the play-in tournament. That seeding has held despite these two recent road losses.

“It's weird to say it: We're still trying to win championsh­ips, but we're also trying to stay out of the play-in, too. Both can be true,” Steph Curry said after Sunday's loss to the Lakers.

Here's an equally weird comment: If the Warriors want to avoid playing most of their games on the road this postseason (if they make it at all), they need to start winning road games in the regular season.

Only one team has won a championsh­ip in the NBA's eight-team playoff era (1984) while not having home-court advantage in the first round.

And while the Warriors have one big thing in common with the 1995 Houston Rockets — both

teams are defending champions — that's where the similariti­es end.

That Rockets team won 47 games in the regular season. The Warriors must win 13 of their remaining 16 games to match that number.

That Rockets team also won nine road playoff games en route to their title. That was an incredible accomplish­ment, no doubt, but Houston was 22-19 on the road in the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are an astounding 7-25 on the road after Tuesday's loss. That's tied for the second-fewest road wins in the NBA, tied with the Pistons, and only bested by the Spurs and this season's Rockets.

Yes, it's the teams crossing their fingers for Victor Wembanyama, and a Warriors team that still thinks it can win a championsh­ip.

You are the company you keep, and this company is unbecoming for the Dubs.

Outside of pointing out the team's waning effort

and focus, the Warriors' road-home splits are inexplicab­le.

Perhaps they'll change in the postseason, when every game feels immense. But when is it fair to stop suspending disbelief that a road turnaround is coming for this team?

It seems more than fair to do it now. The Warriors thought they had turned the corner with their home winning streak. They're unquestion­ably still on the straightaw­ay.

However, we can't write the Dubs off quite yet because of those 1995 Rockets.

Specifical­ly, the team's motto, famously said by coach Rudy Tomjanovic­h:

“Don't ever underestim­ate the heart of a champion.”

Yes, it'd be nice to see more heart right now, but until this Warriors team is officially eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs — for the first time with their big three healthy, it should be noted — you have to give them at least some benefit of the doubt.

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