From the first day of training camp in September, Warriors coach Mark Jackson and his staff stressed a desire for two things above all. They wanted defensive intensity and they wanted a decisive home-court advantage.
They haven't always gotten either, but we've at least seen glimpses of dogged defense.
Home-court dominance simply has not occurred. The message resonated early, with the Warriors winning their first five games at Oracle Arena. But their 9-8 home record since is unimpressive for a playoff-caliber team.
So the goal for the Warriors (29-19) on Tuesday is to run the Bobcats (21-28) off the floor at Oracle.
“We haven't been able to put back-to-back (successful) games together at home,” point guard Stephen Curry said, “so that's a big test for us.”
The Warriors (29-19) are not bashful about identifying games they are “supposed to win.” This fits the profile. Charlotte is a losing team (21-28), daring to invade Oracle after hanging a 115-110 loss on the Warriors on Dec. 9 in Charlotte.
In that sense, the Warriors owe the Bobcats.
“We all remember,” Curry said. “We know exactly which teams have gotten the best of us and which teams we play well against, which games we wish we could have back. And that's one of them.”
Curry, in particular, won't forget. For one, he grew in the Charlotte area. For two, he scored 43 points that night. And for three, he was upstaged in the fourth quarter by Bobcats star Kemba Walker, who scored Charlotte's final 15 points.
Yet they still are the Bobcats, a team with a brief history of sub-mediocrity, a franchise perhaps best known as Michael Jordan's vanity project. They've become, well, respectable.
“They played us very well,” center Andrew Bogut recalled. “They're still a well-coached team and they have some really good players. (Center) Al Jefferson is one of the best scoring big men in the league.
“So we can't just look at their record and think they're an easy win.”
Having lost nearly half their home games since mid-November, the Warriors can't look at any team as an easy win. They can and should and must, however, view most opponents as beatable at Oracle.
That's especially true considering their home-heavy schedule during the second half of the season.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Curry vs. Walker. Though Walker is listed as questionable, with an ankle sprain, this is a matchup he relishes. If there is a way, he will play. Otherwise, Curry will have to seek vengeance on . . . Ramon Sessions.
Bogut vs. Jefferson. This is a battle of traditional centers, mastodons comfortable operating on the block. Bogut is better on defense, Jefferson on offense, as he has an array of moves at his disposal. Can Bogut stay out of foul trouble?
Klay Thompson vs. Gerald Henderson. Klay has been slumping on offense. Henderson had a very good game in December. Seems Thompson should be powered by plenty of motivation.
INJURY UPDATE: For the Warriors, F David Lee (back, hip) is listed as questionable. C Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist) also is listed as questionable but said he expects to play. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and G Nemanja Nedovic (strained left hamstring) are out.
For the Bobcats, G Walker (ankle) is listed as questionable. C Brendan Haywood (left foot stress fracture) and F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured Achilles) are out.
SERIES HISTORY: The overall series is tied, 9-9, but the Warriors haven't lost at Oracle since January 2011 and have won five of the eight games played in Oakland. The Warriors last season swept the Bobcats for the first time since their inaugural season in 2004-05.
LAST 10: Warriors 5-5, Bobcats 5-5.