Kerr pushes War­riors to keep joy, chase re­peat cham­pi­onship

The News (New Glasgow) - - SPORTS -

Steve Kerr re­cently threw out a per­plex­ing ques­tion to his starstud­ded Golden State ros­ter: What should he tell a team that has won cham­pi­onships in two of the last three years and still reached the Fi­nals in the other?

How might he spark im­prove­ment from a group that has won 67, 73 and 67 games the past three sea­sons?

“It’s got to be about what’s im­por­tant to us,” Kerr said. “The joy of com­ing to prac­tice ev­ery day is im­por­tant for our guys to re­mem­ber, the process.”

Kerr is al­ready chal­leng­ing his War­riors to find ways to get bet­ter. He is strate­giz­ing ways to make sure they don’t be­come com­pla­cent, main­tain­ing the edge that has turned this fran­chise into a peren­nial con­tender with names such as Stephen Curry, Kevin Du­rant and Dray­mond Green lead­ing the charge af­ter decades of fu­til­ity.

“It’s been re­ally smooth. There’s a chem­istry and a cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tion of how we’re go­ing to play ver­sus last year,” Curry said. “There were a cou­ple unan­swered ques­tions go­ing into camp and a feel­ing out process but Coach has chal­lenged us to fo­cus on the de­tails in how we can get bet­ter from last year. He joked around: ‘What do you tell a team that’s won 67 games or 65-plus the last three years, two cham­pi­onships, how do you tell a team like that to get bet­ter? Or what do you tell a team like that to get bet­ter? It’s ba­si­cally about the de­tails and the fine points of our of­fence, and cut­ting hard, set­ting screens for each other, the coun­ters that we’re go­ing to add to our of­fen­sive sets. All those lit­tle things are built on the foun­da­tion that we set last year and ob­vi­ously Kevin’s a part of that. We all are. So it’s kind of good to put that in the right per­spec­tive.”

What the fran­chise has ac­com­plished the past three sea­sons isn’t lost on Green.

“It’s a spe­cial thing,” he said. “And I think a lot of times in life we for­get to live in the mo­ment, es­pe­cially in our day and age, so­cial me­dia — let me record this — miss ev­ery­thing I’m watch­ing be­cause I am look­ing at it through a phone. You for­get to en­joy the mo­ment . ... As much as I try to en­joy the mo­ment, you’ll never fully un­der­stand it un­til it’s over.”

■ Here are some things to watch for with the War­riors:

In­vite with­drawn Curry made head­lines on me­dia day last month when he re­it­er­ated he didn’t want to visit the White House un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who then with­drew his in­vite to the champs a day later via Twit­ter.

The War­riors have be­come a face for so­cial ad­vo­cacy in sportsspecif­i­cally speak­ing up against racial in­jus­tice.

“That’s the ge­n­e­sis of our stance and if you watched us all last year we stood for the na­tional an­them,” Curry said. “Cer­tain teams locked arms or had dif­fer­ent demon­stra­tions and the NFL’s taken a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. But it’s about the mes­sage, it’s not about the act. For the life of me if that doesn’t just get across to ev­ery­body, it’s not a dis­re­spect at any­thing about the flag or the an­them and we can hope­fully move in the right di­rec­tion.”

Kerr’s health

Kerr missed 11 games dur­ing the post-sea­son deal­ing with neck pain, nau­sea and other symp­toms stem­ming from a 2015 back surgery.

He has made im­prove­ments but still feels dis­com­fort at times. The 2016 NBA Coach of the Year is stay­ing op­ti­mistic he will be on the bench all sea­son.

“It’s been a long odyssey ... and not easy, but I’m lucky to have the sup­port of not only the play­ers but Bob (My­ers) and Joe (La­cob),” Kerr said. “Ev­ery­body is con­stantly so sup­port­ive, and I’m look­ing for­ward to the sea­son. I’m ex­cited. I think it’s go­ing to go smoothly. I think I’ll be fine. But who knows. As Vin Scully once said, we’re all day-to-day.”

Ros­ter in­tact

With so many fa­mil­iar faces back — 12 to be ex­act — there are only a hand­ful of play­ers be­ing in­te­grated for the first time.

“It’s a lot eas­ier to pick up the sys­tem when you’re only one of two or three new guys in­stead of six or seven,” Kerr said. “Be­cause all the other guys who have been here, they can help and ev­ery­thing flows more smoothly. So I think it’s a lit­tle eas­ier job this year for the new guys to blend in be­cause there are fewer of them.”

Three cen­tres

Kerr can again use his three di­verse cen­tres in a deep ro­ta­tion — be­gin­ning with Zaza Pachu­lia then go­ing to al­ley-oop dunk man JaVale McGee or pre­ci­sion-passer David West.

Pachu­lia said it’s much dif­fer­ent this sea­son with ev­ery­body un­der­stand­ing what to ex­pect from each other and hav­ing al­ready de­vel­oped a trust level.

“When some­thing is work­ing, let it work,” Pachu­lia said.

New­bies

Nick Young and Omri Casspi are two new­com­ers on an ex­pe­ri­enced ros­ter, both ca­pa­ble shoot­ers who will be counted upon to take pres­sure off the start­ing five when called upon for key min­utes.

AP PHOTO

Golden State War­riors head coach Steve Kerr re­cently threw out a per­plex­ing ques­tion to his star-stud­ded ros­ter: What should he pos­si­bly tell a team that won two cham­pi­onships in three years and lost in the Fi­nals the other?

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