War­riors cher­ish­ing it all

Team knows their cham­pi­onship win­dow may be short

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - Sports - JANIE MCCAULEY

OAK­LAND, Calif. — Steve Kerr un­der­stands the NBA ’s busi­ness side, free agency and ev­ery­thing it takes to build a peren­nial win­ner with a star-stud­ded ros­ter like the one he coaches ev­ery day.

He also knows the War­riors’ dom­i­nance won’t last for­ever. Kerr ad­dressed that thought with his group on the eve of train­ing camp. Sure, a fifth straight trip to the NBA Fi­nals would be an in­cred­i­ble feat. Yet Kerr won’t make that a reg­u­lar topic of dis­cus­sion.

In­stead, just en­joy the mo­ment and cher­ish the process while this spe­cial team is still to­gether.

“Last year I took the ap­proach we’re go­ing stare right in the eyes of the beast and I kind of shared my ex­pe­ri­ence as a player and ‘Hey, I know this is go­ing to be hard, we all know this is go­ing to be hard,’ ” Kerr said. “And it was, but I don’t want that to be our theme this year. You can only go with that for so long be­fore it be­comes a self-ful­fill­ing prophecy.

“What we’re try­ing to do is em­brace the idea here we are in this mo­ment in time and time and space where, man, we’ve got a pretty good thing go­ing. Let’s en­joy ev­ery day, let’s en­joy the process. You never know how long any­thing’s go­ing to last.”

And that es­pe­cially rings true as Golden State pre­pares for its fi­nal sea­son at Or­a­cle Arena be­fore a move across the bay into San Fran­cisco’s new Chase Cen­ter, set to open next Au­gust.

With LeBron James in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia with the Lak­ers, the War­riors will have four reg­u­larsea­son matchups with the for­mer Cavs star after fac­ing him in the past four NBA Fi­nals. That in­cludes a Christ­mas night game at Or­a­cle.

“I don’t think it’ll feel any dif­fer­ent. Still the same po­lar­iz­ing player and fig­ure in bas­ket­ball, prob­a­bly the big­gest face in bas­ket­ball, and prob­a­bly in sports,” said Kevin Du­rant, one of the War­riors with an un­set­tled con­tract sit­u­a­tion after this sea­son. “But to play against him in the Sta­ples Cen­ter, I think that’s go­ing to be pretty fun be­cause that crowd is al­ways amaz­ing and it’s al­ways stars on the side­lines.”

Here are some things to know about the War­riors as they chase a three-peat:

Curry’s health

Curry played in only 51 reg­u­larsea­son games dur­ing the lat­est ti­tle run be­cause of in­juries.

The two-time MVP hurt his left knee March 23 just as he had come back from a six-game ab­sence with a right an­kle in­jury. Curry also missed 11 games in De­cem­ber with a sprained right an­kle.

He missed the first round of the play­offs then re­turned for Game 2 of the Western Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals against the Pel­i­cans.

Curry is pleased with his pro­duc­tive off-sea­son, tak­ing things up a notch in his train­ing with­out over­do­ing it.

“Try­ing to ramp that up a lit­tle bit more, but with a per­spec­tive around not burn­ing my­self out over the sum­mer in terms of I def­i­nitely had a knee, had an an­kle sit­u­a­tion last year that needed time to re­cover, and I wanted to re­ally try to pace my­self over the sum­mer,” he said. “But it’s prob­a­bly one of the best sum­mers I’ve had in terms of my prep work go­ing into a year, so I’m ex­cited about what that’ll mean on the court.”

Cousins come­back

De­Mar­cus Cousins can’t wait to join what would be a start­ing lineup fea­tur­ing five All- Stars. He’s out to re­turn as strong as ever — with a chip on his shoul­der to prove peo­ple wrong.

“The haters. That’s all I need,” he said. “I feed off of it. I love it.”

There’s no time­line for when that might be, how­ever, as the big man re­cov­ers from surgery on his torn left Achilles ten­don that pre­ma­turely ended his sea­son in New Or­leans last Jan­uary.

He signed a one-year con­tract with the War­riors after av­erag- ing 25.2 points, 12.9 re­bounds and 5.4 as­sists in 48 games last sea­son be­fore get­ting hurt.

“I’m stub­born as hell. I thought I knew that be­fore, but I’m re­ally start­ing to re­al­ize it now,” Cousins said. “My drive has only in­creased. I’m se­ri­ously like a mad man right now. I think you guys will see a new De­Mar­cus on the floor.”

Cher­ish this time

The War­riors are de­ter­mined to block out noise from any­one other than who they work with day after day to keep this level of ex­cel­lence.

Sure, they get ev­ery­body’s best at home and on the road — but that’s been the case for years.

“Be­cause our ex­pec­ta­tions for our­selves are so high that I don’t re­ally feel ex­pec­ta­tions from any­one else other than who is in this ev­ery day — our coach­ing staff, our front of­fice, our play­ers, ev­ery­one who works in this or­ga­ni­za­tion who is part of that grind ev­ery day,” Dray­mond Green said. “I don’t feel ex­pec­ta­tions from any­one else.”

Kerr, for one, will rel­ish watch­ing this group for at least one last hur­rah to­gether.

“What’s hap­pen­ing right now is go­ing to be re­ally tough to repli­cate for any­body,” Kerr said. “This is the his­tory of pro­fes­sional sports. You have the prover­bial win­dow, how­ever you want to put it. We have an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity that’s just not al­ways go­ing to be here. We want to take full ad­van­tage not only from a suc­cess stand­point but from an en­joy­ment stand­point.”

Youth move­ment

Gone are vet­eran big men JaVale McGee, David West and Zaza Pachu­lia.

Kerr’s ro­ta­tion will fea­ture more play­ing time for sec­ond-year pro Jor­dan Bell, much-im­proved Kevon Looney and oth­ers.

Given the younger group, Kerr has ad­justed prac­tice rou­tines so the play­ers with less ex­pe­ri­ence ar­rive an hour ear­lier to work on skills and con­cepts ahead of the vet­er­ans.

DAVID J. PHILLIP/ THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

In this May 28 file photo, Golden State War­riors for­ward Kevin Du­rant, left, cel­e­brates with team­mate Dray­mond Green dur­ing the sec­ond half in Game 7 of the NBA bas­ket­ball Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals against the Hous­ton Rock­ets in Hous­ton. A fifth straight trip to the NBA Fi­nals for the War­riors would be an in­cred­i­ble feat, but isn’t out of the ques­tion.

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