TORONTO -- Golden State needs only to beat two losing teams for this six-game trip to be a success -- starting Sunday with the Toronto Raptors.
"I think we'll respond," said Warriors coach Mark Jackson, whose team is 2-2 on the trip so far.
Of course, the Warriors have been in this situation before. They've been faced with a chance to gain some momentum, to make some real headway, with a beatable team standing in the way. Against Charlotte, New Jersey, Sacramento -- they failed.
But after practice Saturday, several Warriors said they were past playing down to their opponents. They say they will approach Toronto, and Washington on Monday, as they would any team.
"I don't think that issue is something we have to fight," Jackson said. "We fully understand what we're facing. I have a team that has proven they will respond. I just wish we weren't always in a position to have to respond."
The Raptors are 14 games under .500 and headed to another lottery. But they've played a few good teams close, with their last two losses (to Houston and Memphis) by a combined total of six points.
Jackson said his team is under no illusions. He said the Raptors are desperate for a win and playing well, and that message has been conveyed. But the bigger point, Jackson said, is that his team has been over the hump of playing down to the competition.
Only two of the Warriors' last 12 games were against a losing team. Both of them were against
"We've just got to play the way we play, whether the team is sorry or good," guard Monta Ellis said. "We got over that before the All-Star break. We've been playing great. We just have moments when we lose it from time to time. But we're going to play great tomorrow."
Curry and his brother, Seth (who plays for Duke), practically lived on the Raptors practice court. Their father, Dell, was a sharpshooting swingman for Toronto, where he spent the last three of his 16 seasons.
"I remember outshooting Steph in this gym," Jackson said. "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."
During the 2000-01 season, Jackson played with Dell Curry and the Raptors. Jackson said he used to watch in amazement as Curry's boys shot around. Jackson said he'd have shooting competitions with the adolescent version of his starting point guard.
So who won?
"I'm like Kato Kaelin," Jackson said. "I don't recall."
"We have to go to the security cameras to check the footage," Curry said. "I think I held my own."
Curry said that on game days, he and his brother would spend the first three quarters playing in the practice facility -- occasionally taking a break on the PlayStation exhibit in the hall. When the games got intense in the fourth quarter, which they judged by the noise of the crowd, they ran to the balcony to watch.
On nongame days, they were regulars at practice. When asked who won those shootouts between him and Jackson, Curry conceded.
"He probably won some," Curry said. "I'm sure he's proud of beating a 13-year-old."
"I'm ready for the Toronto Raptors," he said.
Rookie swingman Klay Thompson said he's feeling fine, too. He'd been hobbled by what was guessed as food poison, but Thompson said he has his legs back and is at full strength.