Warriors hope ‘fresh start’ at Chase Center reignites ‘Roaracle’ success

SAN FRANCISCO — Steve Kerr had a message for his team before their first competitive game in front of a full house at Chase Center in almost 600 days.

“Steve said we’ve got to dominate the home court this year,” Juan Toscano-Anderson said Thursday before the Warriors tipped off against the Los Angeles Clippers. “He didn’t specifically state any numbers. In a perfect world we want to go undefeated at home, but it’s hard to win in the NBA.”

The Warriors’ trademark home success — flowing from the crowd that earned the moniker “Roaracle” — hasn’t followed them to their billion-dollar crown jewel on the opposite side of the San Francisco Bay.

But after a rebuilding 2019-20 season, followed by a pandemic-stricken year last season, Kerr believes the Warriors truly began to christen their new home Thursday night.

“It feels like this is how it should have opened in the first place,” Kerr said. “That first year, we didn’t even know where we were going to find our way around. It’s good to have our bearings, but now we have a good team, we’ve got fans coming in — it does feel like a fresh start.”

A sellout streak of 377 games was interrupted by COVID-19 last March. The Warriors welcomed their first full house of fans since March 10, 2020, during the preseason, but Thursday night was the first time for a game that counts in a span of 590 days.

Since the streak began, on Dec. 18, 2012, Golden State has sent its sold-out crowds home happy 74.2 percent of the time. The Warriors posted a 272-69 record in front of the fans at Oracle Arena, including back-to-back seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16 with 39-2 records at home.

Since moving to Chase Center, however, the Warriors have lost more home games than they’ve won, mostly dragged down by an 8-26 greeting to their new digs in 2019-20. Golden State went 25-11 at home in 2020-21, when pandemic restrictions kept Chase Center empty until the arena opened at a limited capacity for the final weeks of the season.

When Kerr talks about dominating the home court, though, he’s talking about a style of play. Their record is only a byproduct.

“To me, it’s execution,” Kerr said. “Because in order to pull the crowd in and take advantage of the energy, you just have to execute. If you execute and you get open looks as a result of that execution, then the crowd’s going to get going. …

“That’s where we were for many years at Oracle. We were tough to beat — obviously we had a lot of talent — we just didn’t give away games. We made it tough on everybody coming in. That’s the idea. If you want to be a great team in the NBA, you have to control your own court. That was the message.”

Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft-made billionaire Clippers owner, was in the house Thursday night.

But for Toscano-Anderson, a native of East Oakland, it was different people in the crowd who made the home opener special.

“I can’t speak for anybody else, but I think it’s just a little more special for me just because I get to play in front of my friends and family,” he said. “Every game there’s somebody new coming to the game, friends or family. … I still come into this building every day happy to be here. I’m not satisfied, but I’m very thankful for the opportunity. I have a lot of friends that I grew up with who are either dead or I’ve got friends in jail.

“It’s always fun to play at home, regardless of what team you play for. For me, it’s that much more because it’s my house.”

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Author: Evan Webeck