Steve Kerr insisted the two-time reigning champion Warriors remain confident in their bid for a three-peat as they look to overturn a deficit against the Raptors in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors dropped Game 1 to the Raptors 118-109 in Toronto on Thursday, with Game 2 back at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday.
Golden State is no stranger to the biggest stage, with the Warriors contesting their fifth successive Finals, while the Raptors are featuring for the first time in their history.
Asked about Golden State’s confidence heading into the second game, Warriors head coach Kerr told reporters: “I think any team that has been through the experiences that we have and that has won championships has to earn that confidence.
“I think players are naturally pretty confident at this level. Star players, like we have, they have all got confidence. But what the real confidence is, is when you’ve been through everything and you’ve seen everything — you’ve won, you’ve lost, you’ve experienced every high, every low, then you know what this is about and you can dig into your reserve of experience to remember what’s necessary, which is really you just keep going back to the basics.
“It sounds boring, but transition defense, boxing out. Football coaches just say blocking and tackling. It’s the same concept, but your ability to do that under pressure, when you’re in the Finals or in a big series, whatever, and everybody’s asking you a million questions, it’s can you focus on blocking and tackling? That’s what it comes down to.
“To me, confidence is not just confidence in your shot. It’s confidence in your ability to execute all the details that go into winning a game.”
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 1, 2019
Kerr was also quizzed on the NBA’s strict no-tampering policy after Clippers coach Doc Rivers was fined over comments about Raptors star Kawhi Leonard.
Rivers was hit with a $50,000 fine on Friday after he compared reported Clippers target Leonard to NBA great Michael Jordan.
“I got fined when I was the general manager of the Phoenix Suns for making a joke on The Dan Patrick Show,” Kerr said on Saturday. “I think he asked me if we were interested in LeBron (James) when LeBron was a free agent back in whatever it was that he went to Miami.
“I said if he’s willing to take minimum, we would take him. Dan laughed. And I wrote a $10,000 check the next day. So I learned my lesson. I don’t comment about any other players.”
Leonard has been devastating during the playoffs, though he was rather subdued by his standards in Game 1 following 23 points and eight rebounds.
“I think with great players like Kawhi or LeBron or Kevin Durant or whoever, it’s the old cliche: You can’t just do the same thing over and over again,” Kerr added. “But in this case the cliche is true: You can’t give a guy the same look every time. So you just try to mix it up and keep them off balance the best you can.
“I thought we did a decent job overall on Kawhi. He didn’t have his best game. But, again, transition and other areas of our defensive game were really lacking and we have to clean up. We’re under no illusion that we’re going to stop Kawhi. We’re just trying to make it as difficult as possible on him.”