San Francisco Chronicle

Kerr off couch, back on bench

- By C.J. Holmes

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and will return to the sideline for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday.

Kerr missed the Warriors’ final three second-round playoff games against Memphis and was replaced on the bench by assistant Mike Brown.

“Mike was fantastic,” Kerr said. “The whole staff was great. For Mike in particular, what a difficult spot to be put into, especially given he had just been hired by Sacramento. He obviously had a lot going on and he’s got enough on his plate anyway as our defensive coordinato­r, trying to slow down Memphis and focus on that.”

In the conference finals, the Warriors will play the Mavericks — the winner of Sunday evening’s Game 7 between Phoenix and Dallas. Game 1 of the West finals will be at Chase Center.

“We have one group of

coaches scouting Phoenix, one group scouting Dallas, they’re both ready to present the scouting report to the team tomorrow,” Kerr said.

Kerr told reporters Sunday that he began experienci­ng mild symptoms of the coronaviru­s while driving to Chase Center ahead of Game 4 last Monday. The Warriors had a few cases among staff members in recent weeks, so he made the decision to get tested in order to prevent possible transmissi­on of the virus to the team. Kerr tested positive and isolated himself in accordance to league rules.

Kerr said it wasn’t easy watching his team battle against a young, hungry Grizzlies team from afar. His symptoms, he said, only involved a cough and congestion.

Kerr’s wife, Margot, tweeted “I never want to watch an NBA game with my husband again!” during Game 6 on Friday. When asked about it on Sunday, Kerr explained that they had to set some healthy boundaries when the Warriors were playing.

“She sat there for about two minutes then announced that she was going to head downstairs to watch the Kardashian­s instead,” Kerr said. “So it was a good arrangemen­t. Like all good marriages, you know when to be together and when to give each other a little space.”

Kerr said he and Brown spoke several times a day during his three-game absence, but for the most part, he left Brown alone during games. The main thing Kerr told Brown was to follow his own instincts, instead of thinking about what Kerr would do in any given situation. Kerr also organized a Zoom call with players ahead of Game 6.

“I was able to stay in touch with guys, both on the staff and on the team, but it was definitely very strange sitting at home and not being a part of it,” he said. Injury updates: Kerr said Otto Porter Jr. spent Sunday’s practice on the stationary bike. The veteran forward missed Game 6 against Memphis because of foot soreness.

Kerr said Porter’s recovery is trending in the right direction and the team is hopeful he’ll be available for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Kerr said guard Gary Payton II’s recovery is coming along well. He suffered a fractured left elbow in Game 2 of the Warriors’ series against Memphis and was expected to be out for at least a month.

However, Golden State’s defensive stopper could return at some point later in the conference finals. Kerr said it’s a long shot for him to play, but a possibilit­y.

“He won’t play to start out the series, but the good thing with it being an elbow, he’s able to do a lot of things on the court, he’s able to work on his conditioni­ng and his movement,” Kerr said.

Veteran forward Andre Iguodala (neck) hasn’t played since Game 4 of the openingrou­nd series against Denver. He’s expected to be re-evaluated Thursday.

 ?? Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle ?? Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

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