With a 122-108 victory in Portland Tuesday night, the Warriors clinched the Pacific Division title for the first time since the San Francisco Warriors won back-to-back Pacific titles in 1974-75 and 1975-76.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said winning the division is one of the tangible goals that was set at the beginning of the season and that it means a lot to him:
“Maybe its not a big deal for the Lakers who have won a thousand of them but it is a big deal for a lot of franchises, it’ll be a big deal for us. Hopefully we can get to the point where it’s not a big deal but for now it is. It’s important and is a good milestone for our franchise and symbolizes how far we’ve come.”
Kerr added that gaining home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs is hugely important a sentiment shared by the entire team.
With a comfortable eight-game lead on the second-place Grizzlies, the Warriors all but have postseason home court advantage locked up for their third-consecutive playoff appearance.
Golden State has seen nearly perfect success this season playing at home with a 34-2 record at Oracle Arena. Harrison Barnes said the home crowd could mean the difference between winning a series and losing one:
“It is a tough environment to play in. When you have that support behind you, you want to take care of those games. Some people may think ‘you guys are a one-seed, you aren’t going to fall very far’, but if you end up where its two games here or two games on the road it can make the biggest difference.”
As much as a Pacific Division crown symbolizes the franchise’s progress, it won’t be overly celebrated. Warriors Vice President of Communications Raymond Ridder told SFBay there won’t be a division title banner raised at Oracle. Instead, a small banner will be hung at the team’s practice facility next to the 1975-76 banner.
The fanfare of a champagne celebration or a banner ceremony is perhaps being set aside because the now 58-13 Warriors have their sights set on bigger things. Stephen Curry said it’s a stepping stone leading to the ultimate goal.
Golden State owner Joe Lacob said that while the division title is important, a championship is what the team has its sights set on:
“You want to win the division its very important. We wanted to be top-four in the Western Conference and win the division title but beyond that we have obviously bigger goals.”
With 11 games left to play the Warriors will play nine of those games against teams that are still fighting for playoff position. Next up, the 50-21 Grizzlies on Friday in Memphis.