The Golden State Warriors have achieved Steve Kerr’s main objective for the final week of the season, and now he’s moved on to the secondary goal — upping the intensity for what could be a grueling playoff run.
Kerr shared some praise for the team’s effort as they moved beyond a month-long slump in March that saw them slide in the playoff standings. The Warriors have been able to secure home court in the first round of the NBA playoffs, which could be critical to give Steph Curry more time in the Bay Area to recover from the foot injury that has kept him out for weeks. Now, Kerr wants to see his team consistently playing playoff-level basketball.
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Upping Their Game
Kerr said this week that his primary goal for the team was to secure homecourt in the first round, which the Warriors achieved with a Denver Nuggets to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night The Warriors coach said he now wants to see the team playing with more energy, especially on defense, to prepare for the playoffs.
“That’s the tangible goal, the intangibles are playing with energy and maintaining a defensive presence and force that maybe wasn’t there for a lot of the Utah game, but was pretty good against Phoenix and Sacramento,” Kerr said, via NBC Bay Area. “So just trying to gain some consistency with our defensive presence the last few games.”
The Warriors had struggled through the last few months, which included a long stretch without Draymond Green followed by another stretch without Curry. Kerr called out the team at times but remained patient through the slump, especially with Klay Thompson. Back with the Warriors after a two-and-a-half-year injury absence, Thompson has struggled with his shooting some nights, but Kerr stressed that he wants the All-Star guard to play through it.
“Overall, he’s played really well. I think he’s been up and down, though. He hasn’t been consistent within that time, because emotionally, he wants this so badly that he tends to press a little bit” Kerr said after a comeback win over the Utah Jazz where Thompson made only one of 10 three-point attempts. “That’s the biggest thing we’re trying to help him with. Just to relax a little bit, and understand that trying a little less hard sometimes is a good thing.”
Still a Lot on the Line
There is still a lot at stake in Golden State’s three remaining games. The Warriors are a half-game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks with one game in hand, but could be at risk of falling to the No. 4 seed as the Mavericks hold the tie-breaker. The Warriors currently match up against the Denver Nuggets, which could present its own challenge. Just as the Warriors are expecting to get Steph Curry back in time for the playoffs, the Nuggets are hoping that All-Star Jamal Murray might be able to return.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Murray is ramping up his rehab, and the team could make a decision soon about whether he can return for the playoffs.
“Jamal Murray has really ramped up his preparation. He’s really aggressive in the last week on the floor,” Wojnarowski said. “And there is coming a time here where there’s going to be a decision made between him and the organization about whether it makes sense to return in the postseason. I’m told there are still days where there’s some soreness in that knee when he gets done working out.