Setting the stage for Golden State’s shot at NBA history Friday night as the Warriors attempt to close out the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games in the Finals to complete an unbeaten 16-0 postseason.
Thoughts from Golden State coach Steve Kerr and Warriors’ players Steph Curry and Kevin Durrant
- Just Steph’s series overall, defensively, rebounding floor game, only one turnover last night. How good is that?
KERR: Just great. He just looks so much healthier than last year — stronger, faster, quicker. All the times they’re putting him in screen-and-rolls, trying to wear him down, he’s handled that really well. It’s not always going to work, but he’s working hard and staying really active.
Q. I know all year you’ve been saying that K.D. is maybe even better than you thought he was, but now that you’re seeing him in these high-pressure games, and particularly last night, how much better is he than you expected him to be?
KERR: We knew how good he was, but just how clutch he’s been, how many big shots he’s hit for us. I think I said it last night, it just looks like he understands this is his moment, this is his time. He’s earned it. He’s been in this league for a long time, and he’s, I think, at the top of his game at the biggest time.
Q. When you got a talent like Durant, how much does it like unlock his game? We already knew he was good, he’s been in the league awhile. How much does it unlock his game playing with other players who are also really good?
KERR: Same for any player, great player, role player — you’re better the better your teammates are. That’s the beauty of the game. That’s what makes our team special. It’s not just Steph and K.D.; it’s Livingston, Iguodala, Draymond. It’s the number of playmakers. I say it all the time, guys just make it easier on each other.
That’s the beauty of Cleveland’s team; they complement each other. The best teams obviously have the best players, but they complement one another well. I think our team complements each other beautifully.
Q. Have you seen Durant’s game grow? Do you feel like he’s gotten better?
COACH KERR: Yeah, yeah. I think that he has grown in terms of his ability to play with the other four guys, with our movement and our spacing and our flow. Over the course of the year, he’s gotten better and better with that. Just understanding when to cut, when to screen, when to come off a screen, and instead of just being on the ball and making a play, making a play without the ball. That’s a big part of what we do.
- Your three years when the Bulls won, the best postseason they had was ’96, they went 15-3. Does that help you give a sense of sort of how hard it is to be where you are now at 15-0?
KERR: Yeah, I remember that well. We were up 3-0 The Finals, too, and then we lost the next two games in Seattle. It’s hard. In the Playoffs, every team is good. Particularly as you go deeper, it gets tougher and tougher.
So what this team has accomplished is remarkable. And we have had some good fortune, too. We have stayed healthy, knock on wood. Every year’s different, and we know that, but so far things have gone our way. Our guys have really played well and competed at a high level.
- I was curious if you could describe the evolution of the team’s ball movement from Steve’s first year to where the system is at today, just in terms of the passing.
CURRY: From day one he showed up, that was something that he wanted to implement. Understanding whether it was first quarter, second quarter or crunch time, down the stretch, that that would be the best way for us to create great shots consistently. Use all the different playmakers that we had.
When he took over, he knew how many good passers that we had on our team and guys that really understood that part of the game and how important that was, and just we needed the parameters to kind of work through in that sense.
Q.It looks easy now. Was it easy transition?
CURRY: No, because it’s hard to eliminate some certain bad habits you might have or just standing in one place for too long and in half-court offense and being a lot easier to guard in that sense.
The main goal is to just make the defense make as many decisions as you can so that they’re going to mess up at some point with all that ball movement and body movement and whatnot. But it took a while for us to kind of get the understanding of where each other was going to be without having to call a set play or whatnot. So it took a while.
Q. 29 rebounds in three games, 13 last night. Why or where are you fitting in, and why are you getting so many rebounds, and how much do you take pride in the fact that you’re a pretty high rebound point guard?
CURRY: I’ve always taken pride in that because, one, it allows us to get more possessions and I can help my bigs out, rebounding around the elbows and making use of their work, keeping offensive rebounders off the glass.
But the best part about it is when myself or any other guard or wing gets a rebound, you don’t need an outlet pass. You can take that rebound and just push in transition, and usually something good happens in those opportunities.
I’m wondering if you could shed some insight on the chemistry that has occurred in adding such a dominant player in Kevin. What is the most significant thing that you’ve learned about Kevin as a person that kind of speaks to how he’s been able to get into a comfort zone and you with him?
CURRY: We talked about it this summer, even going into this year, just when you watch K.D. play and you watch us play, his skill set, we could see, would jell right with what we were talking about earlier — about just our body movement, ball movement, high-IQ guys that don’t really need the ball in their hands that much, just to try to make plays and be efficient in that aspect.
He’s obviously unselfish as a person and as a basketball player when it comes to understanding how he can impact the game, every single night, and do it his way. But that would fit right into our style and our identity. It took a while for it to kind of reveal itself consistently as the regular season went on, but once it clicked and the habits started to become second nature, it was kind of beautiful to watch and an amazing kind of style to play and watch unfold. So it’s been fun.
- Do you think you’re playing the best, your best game ever, like you’re at the top of your game in this moment?
DURANT: I’m not even thinking about that. I’m just trying to just go out there and play hard every second I’m on the floor, play with passion and energy and joy. That’s all I’m concerned about. It’s not about me, it’s about our group.
But we do need everybody individually to do their jobs and for all of us to have confidence when we go out there. So I’m just trying to put everything together for my teammates as far as having confidence, playing smart, playing hard and just playing free and with some joy.
Q.This is what you envisioned when you decided to go to the Warriors?
DURANT: I didn’t envision anything but just being around good people and getting better every single day. That’s exactly what happened throughout the season. I didn’t talk to these guys when I made my decision and say we better make it to The Finals and be up in the series around this time, this exact date, or I’m not coming. I mean, it was just let’s just have some fun playing ball, let’s just all get better and let’s see what happens.
Q. When you have a shot like last night that’s been played already billions of times, three-pointer over LeBron to basically win an NBA Finals game or take the lead in an NBA Finals game, is that the one that’s going to be your signature play? Do you ever think about that kind of thing, like years from now your Hall of Fame moment, everyone will still be watching this great shot?
DURANT: I don’t think about years from now. We’ll see. I’m glad we got the W. Try not to think too far past today. We have to practice today. We had a good film session. Guys getting shots up right now. So that’s only thing I’m worried about.
I don’t want to get too far off of the goal at hand and the task at hand. I’m just trying to stay in this moment and not worry about the future. I know it was an exciting game last night for all the fans and for people to see, but as a player in it, you’re just trying to stay in the moment and know that this can turn if we come out there thinking we won the championship already. We haven’t. They’re still champions, and we got to go take it.
Q. Particularly with the passing, how appealing was that style of play to you?
DURANT: Basketball’s like a rhythm game. It’s a free-flowing game, and you just want to be a part of it. That’s what makes it just even more and more fun. Guys are moving. You are working together. You’re communicating out there on both ends. You see it playing against them, and then you see it on TV. And then it’s a different feel when you’re around it every single day.
So I’m just trying to do my part and just take in as much as I can. Learn every day, work as hard as I can and try to help the team and just listen to my coaches and trust that they will make us better as a group and make me better as an individual.
Compiled from ASAPSports.com