Golden State started a four-game span against the Central Division with an 18-point loss. What’s followed against some of the Eastern Conference’s top teams has been quite the opposite.
Now, a team that needs no boost of confidence is about to get a big one as Steve Kerr returns to the sideline Friday night after missing more than half the season.
And Golden State returns from blowout wins in Cleveland and Chicago hoping to equal Larry Bird and Boston with its 38th straight home victory.
Wednesday’s 125-94 win over the Bulls came two nights after a 132-98 victory over the Cavaliers, marking the Warriors’ top two-game scoring output of the season after being held to a season-low 36.2 percent shooting in Saturday’s 113-95 loss in Detroit.
"Good teams bounce back quick and we were able to do that," Stephen Curry said. "It says a lot about our resiliency."
They’ve recovered from losing two of three prior to their stop in Cleveland, and as they head back to Oakland for a three-game stop that includes a visit from San Antonio on Monday they’ll find a familiar face leading them. Kerr, who hasn’t coached all season while recovering from a spinal-fluid leak caused by offseason back surgery, will return to the bench Friday to take his job back from assistant Luke Walton.
Not that Golden State (39-4) needs any more help as it chases the 1995-96 Bulls’ single-season record 72 wins.
"I feel like we kind of have that chip back on our shoulders," said Draymond Green, who’s been held to an average of 8.5 points on 34.4 percent shooting in four games since resting in a Jan. 13 loss in Denver. "It kind of fell off a little bit."
That’s yet to happen in Oakland. The Warriors are 19-0 this season as part of a 37-game regular-season winning streak, which is one from matching the 1985-86 Celtics for third all-time and trails Orlando in ’95-96 (40) and Chicago in ’95-96 (44). They’ve won this season’s home games by an average of 15.4 points.
They didn’t have as easy of a time with the Pacers in a 131-123 win in Indiana on Dec. 8, the Warriors’ third victory in the last four meetings. Klay Thompson scored 39 for his third straight game in the series with at least that many. The guard has shot 52.7 percent in those games while hitting 21 of 40 from 3-point range.
While the Warriors are beginning a three-game homestand with San Antonio coming in Monday, the Pacers (23-19) are playing the third of a four-game road trip.
Indiana won 97-94 in Phoenix on Tuesday to avoid losing a season-worst fourth straight, though it nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead. Over the losing streak, Indiana had allowed 116.7 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting before holding the Suns to an opponent season-low 34.6.
"This was all about us getting a win and getting back to playing winning basketball," Paul George said. "It was poor closing this game out. We’ve got to do a better job, but it was a good start to getting back to playing some defense."
The Pacers needed it with continued struggles from 3-point range. A 4-for-20 mark has them shooting 24.1 percent in the last four games and 27.7 in their last nine. Considering Golden State has limited its last five opponents to 23.4 percent from outside, it might be another game before the Pacers come around.
George has been limited to 19.5 points and 38.1 percent shooting in his last eight games while never eclipsing his dipping season average of 23.7. Plenty of that has to do with a 25 percent mark from long range after entering that span at 40.5.
His supporting cast has been banged up with George Hill missing the last two games for personal reasons and Rodney Stuckey not yet nearing a return due to a sprained right ankle and bone bruise. Hill has already been ruled out, likely again creating a backcourt partnership of Monta Ellis and Glenn Robinson III.
Ellis is averaging 20.3 points and shooting 48 percent in the last three games. The former Golden State guard has averaged 10.8 points and shot 31.7 percent in his last four against the Warriors.