SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Steve Kerr has spent much of his NBA career as a player and coach experiencing the ups and downs of the NBA playoffs.
So, in the final moments of the stunning Game 1 loss, he stepped onto the bench giving each of his starters a hand, a punch and a kind of half-hug.
“Steve knows how tough it is. He’s been through this career, his coaching career, and we stick together through thick and thin, wins and losses,” Klay Thompson said. “We’re not going to part ways because we didn’t play the way we wanted to. We’re just going to keep playing as hard as we can.”
Over the past few days, the Warriors have been rewatching Game 1 footage, plotting new strategies and reviewing lineups and matchups in preparation for Sunday’s Game 2.
Kerr knows success in a 7-game series is a matter of making adjustments every game. That’s the lesson he learned as a player with the Michael Jordan/Phil Jackson Chicago Bulls and with Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs and coaching the Warriors to their sixth NBA Finals in eight years.
“The value of experience, playoff experience, you really understand the ups and downs of a playoff series,” he said at Saturday’s press conference. “It’s really important to turn the page one way or the other. You know, if you win and you’re happy and you let your guard down, then you’re in trouble. And if you lose and you you feel sorry for yourself, then you find it hard to do that too.”
“It’s all about how you react. These guys are the best athletes, the best competitors in the world, and a big part of competing at the highest level is your emotional and mental approach. It has to be consistent.”
During movie sessions, the Warriors realized their Game 1 downfall had begun long before the fourth quarter.
“The game is still tied offensively and defensively, but it even ties from first quarter to fourth quarter,” Kerr said. “I thought we strayed from ourselves in the first quarter in terms of the game plan. We let a few guys get in a few shots and get comfortable. We let Jaylen Brown get a quick dunk without that nobody touches it and kind of a five-four situation.”
“I think everything that happened in the first three quarters helped the process of the fourth to get them going the way they did. But obviously they played extremely well, and the formation that they presented was very successful throughout the playoffs as well, so kind of a combination of all of that.
So how do you solve that in Game 2 on Sunday?
“I think we need to play harder on the defensive side,” Draymond Green said. “I think there were times in the game where they didn’t sense us, when you’re playing against a big team at this level at this stage of the season they have to sense every possession you have.”
“There were times when they didn’t, then once you got into the rhythm, because they don’t feel our pressure, it’s hard to stop. It’s easy to go back. and watching the fourth quarter shots and thinking, man, they started hitting, but the reality is some guys got comfortable early in this game, and once you put a guy on comfortable, it’s hard to break that rhythm.”
“So we just have to make sure they feel every possession we have.”
Veteran Andre Iguodala compared it to a game of high-stakes chess.
“They’ve done a really good job with their tweaks, and they’ve done a really good job doing what the game says,” he said. “There’s so much in a landmark piece that we forget about the little nuances, the playfulness, the – it’s all – Isiah Thomas said on my podcast.”
“We play in tenths of a second, not seconds or minutes. The little things, even the way you close, even the way you attack the defence, or your personnel setup in a game and making sure everyone world is a weapon, and they’ve done a really good job of getting their guys to be threats.”
“When the ball comes to them, you do what you do. The game says shoot, you shoot. The game says pass, you pass. The game says cut, you cut. They did a good job with that.”
And even if you’re a two-time league MVP, you’re losing some sleep over the loss.
“How do you bounce back? You go home after the game,” said Steph Curry. “You probably think about every play that happened, when you could have done it differently. A defensive rotation, a shot would have been made, a decision you made, whatever it was, those things go around in your mind. head and you’re probably losing some sleep that first night.”
“And then you come back the next day and realize you have an opportunity again to protect your home court on Sunday and get things done. Get back in the series.”