Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been impressed by the recent play of his second unit.
With Kevin Durant sidelined, Golden State has received contributions from multiple bench players — including Jordan Bell, Alfonzo McKinnie, Kevon Looney and Jonas Jerebko — as it has built a 3-0 lead over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals.
“It’s a hard job but you have to be ready for it, and that is your job,” Kerr said, via ESPN. “So, the way to stay ready is to stay engaged and get shots up. … These guys have their own routines, but part of being a pro in the NBA is being able to deliver when you haven’t played for a stretch.
“And we’ve got a lot of guys who are doing that right now … they can all play or they wouldn’t be in the NBA, and we trust them to come in and deliver.”
Jonas Jerebko behind-the-back dime to Jordan Bell! #StrengthInNumbers 36#RipCity 42
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— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2019
Durant has not played since straining his calf in Golden State’s Game 5 win over the Rockets in the second round. The Warriors went on to close out Houston in six games before winning the first three matchups against Portland.
“We’re blessed with a lot of talent, so we’re able to mix and match and play some of our young guys, bench guys routinely, and put them in with other starters and protect them a little bit,” Kerr said. “But I think there’s a real power in that dynamic. It keeps everybody more engaged, more connected, I think more committed to the goal.
“I think what’s happened the last few games with our bench playing a key role, Game 6 in Houston and then the last two games in Portland, has been galvanizing.”
The Warriors have won three of the last four championships, including back-to-back titles. Kerr also won five championships as a role player with the Bulls and Spurs during his 15-year career.
“On winning teams one of the things I learned from Phil Jackson when I was in Chicago was how important it was to engage the guys on the end of the bench, keep them involved, which means throw them out there,” Kerr said. “Don’t be afraid to put everybody in the game at some point. And there’s going to come a time where every single player on the roster’s going to have to contribute to help your team win.”
Game 4 between the Warriors and Trail Blazers will tipoff Monday at 9 p.m. ET.