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June 6, 2017

Steve Kerr

Cleveland, Ohio: Practice Day

Q. You mentioned this situation with you in and out coaching being awkward at times with you and Mike. Why has it been so smooth and how much of that is Mike's attitude through this whole process and really the relationship you guys have built all season?
COACH KERR: It's just everything. It's the players, it's how talented the players are, first of all. Winning solves everything, basically. But it's also the players' unselfishness and their own commitment to each other and to the staff.

And then Mike is just a terrific human being, much like everybody else on our staff. The whole thing is designed to where we just work together and there's nothing other than a commitment to doing what's best for the team, and it all plays out from there.

Q. What are your memories from Game 3 last year? What sticks out to you? And how different do the circumstances feel right now from that game?
COACH KERR: They just took it to us right from the beginning. I remember our offense was pushed back to half court the first few possessions. They set a great tone. I think they went up big right away, and so we got to be ready for that initial force.

Q. What do you remember about T-Lue as a player playing against him? And also what do you think about the job he's done here?
COACH KERR: Ty was a feisty typical defensive-minded smaller point guard who was really quick, who would get underneath you. He knew exactly how he had to survive in the league and made himself a good offensive player, worked on his shot. But his real gift was to be a pest, be a competitor and a pest, and he was a really good player for a lot of teams.

Q. You said last year that you didn't like so much rest in between games.

Q. Have you made some adjustments to the team's routine in order to get better results?
COACH KERR: No, no adjustments. It is what it is. You just -- whatever you need to do, you feel it and you do it. Yesterday was an obvious day off for our guys, and today we'll try to get a good practice in, and I'm glad that the next two games are only one day apart.

Q. How much was the game here on Christmas kind of an -- I don't want to say a turning point, kind of an inflection point for you guys, given the way Steph played in that game and kind of the way things changed after it for him and for you guys as a group?
COACH KERR: It was a good game for us. Disappointing finish, but a good test for us, good reminder of, first of all, how good these guys are, but also a good indication that we had some things to figure out. We had K.D. rolling that game, Steph was not having a great game. And we -- I think that was kind of the point of the season where we started doing a better job of blending their talents. And it was -- it wasn't really anything strategic, it was more just a feel, and that was natural, that was going to come the more those guys played together.

Q. It seems like over the course of the season, there was that Christmas game and there was K.D.'s absence with his injury and stuff, it seems like Steph and K.D. are really just playing with great synergy together right now. Why was that able to come together finally for this Playoff run?
COACH KERR: I think the more guys play together, the more it happens naturally. You just get used to each other's tendencies and rhythms, and they're obviously both so skilled and talented. But what we knew when we signed K.D. was that the fit would be pretty smooth. It's not like you're trying to put two dominant ball handlers together who can't shoot. That's a much more difficult proposition.

The example I would probably give you would be like Miami with Wade and LeBron. I think that was a much tougher transition because you're talking about two guys who generally in their careers to that point had been kind of point forward types, neither one was really a three-point shooter at the time. So they had -- it took them a good year, I thought, to figure out how to play together. And then they did it beautifully.

But with Steph and K.D., you're talking about guys who handle the ball, who shoot from range, who cut, who are kind of used to playing off the ball, so that the transition I think was pretty smooth. It did take a little bit of time, but for the most part their talents fit together pretty naturally.

Q. And I know that you know so many personalities in this league besides the talents, what is it about their personalities, perhaps their willingness to listen or be flexible?
COACH KERR: They're just both very naturally unselfish and relatively quiet. Neither one craves the spotlight, but neither one shies away from it either. I think they have become really good friends, they really enjoy playing together. They understand the power that they possess together, and I think that that's an important dynamic. It's not about one or the other, it's about both of them. And they can put a lot of pressure on people.

Q. I know it's one game at a time, especially against the team you're playing, but your team has circled records before, 73, announced it, you're going after 73 wins last year. 16-0. Do you want that to be something that they're going for, obviously a historic number? Is that a number out there at all for you?
COACH KERR: We want 15-0. That's what we want. Are we 14-0 right now? We want 15-0. That's what we want. We literally have never once mentioned 16-0. To me it's a miracle that it's even a possibility. It's so hard to do. But we are here, we're more focused on what happened last year like in terms of we were up 2-0 and we came here and the series shifted. That's the important lesson, not any historical benchmarks or anything like that.

Q. Your guys like going for greatness, though. They have talked about it. Is that part of being great is that you don't shy away from history?
COACH KERR: I don't know. We don't -- again, we don't talk about it. They may talk about it internally, but it's definitely not something we're focused on. So you're going to have to ask them.

Q. When you crafted this team, you were offensive guy. Did you ever think this would be such a good defensive team, especially considering the pace? I know in the past for the Warriors like offense -- or defense was sacrificed for offense. How did you make this such a good defensive team?
COACH KERR: I didn't. I didn't. Mark Jackson did. Honestly. When I was in TV, I was doing Warriors games for years, every year they were one of the worst defensive teams in the league. Mark came in and made a focus of being a tough defensive-minded team. The trade for Andrew Bogut to me changed the identity of the team.

The year before I got here, the Warriors were the fourth ranked defensive team in the league. Already top five. So we knew what we had. We didn't change one thing defensively. We started switching more when Draymond took over that power forward role, but for the most part our schemes, everything stayed the same. We already knew they had established that defensive identity. Our job was to improve the offense to try to get more movement and more flow, and that was more my focus.

And I've said it before, I was gifted an unbelievable opportunity as a coach, and we were as a staff, to inherit a great defensive team and an offensive team that was on the rise but needed a little bit more growth, and that's been the pattern.

Q. LeBron kind of laughed when he was asked if they were playing at your pace. He says they're playing their pace. Do you like the fact that they're willing to engage you in your game at this speed?
COACH KERR: Well, they're really good when they play fast. Obviously LeBron coming downhill at you, all those shooters, that's kind of what we expect. We feel like we can play any pace, and we're ready to do so. Whatever comes, we'll play that way.

Q. You mentioned before about how you came here last year and one game shifted the series. You're still up 2-1, how does one change it, you're even up 3-1 when you go home?
COACH KERR: I think it was the nature with which they won that game, the force that they brought. They blew us out. I don't remember what the final score was, but it wasn't close. And I thought that gave them confidence, gave their crowd confidence.

We came back and won Game 4 in a great effort and had them right where we wanted them, but I think Game 3 gave them that confidence, and obviously everything changed in Game 5.

Q. When you guys signed Kevin, what did you envision as his defensive role, and how has that evolved maybe and how has he kind of adapted over the course of the season?
COACH KERR: Well, what we saw in our series with Oklahoma City last year, that's what we envisioned from K.D. He was a monster defensively, blocking shots, guarding everybody. He guarded Draymond quite a bit. So we knew he could guard multiple positions, block shots, protect the rim. That's what we envisioned. And putting him with a lot of like-size, like-minded guys, Draymond and Andre, Klay, and all the switching that we like to do. So we knew he would fit perfectly into what we already did but make us better.

Q. I'm going to ask the one that you hate. How did you come through the game just physically, and how did you come through the flight? How are you feeling?
COACH KERR: Feeling fine. Thanks.

Q. You've kind of addressed it, I'm not trying to say you guys had any letdown after being up 2-0, but you have to keep hammering into these guys that, hey, we had the Cavaliers last year and blew it? How do you make sure that doesn't happen?
COACH KERR: I don't use that expression actually like we blew it. In fact, I think sometimes they don't get enough credit for how well they played Games 5 through 7. They were amazing, and they deserve the credit. We had our chances; we didn't finish it.

That was last year. Half the guys on the team this year are new. So we don't bring up last year in terms of strategy, in terms of sort of what we need to do better or here or there. It's more about this is the history of the NBA, right? You win two games at home, you haven't really done anything yet. No matter whether you're 14-0 or 14-7 in the Playoffs, you're still -- it's just 2-0 and you got to win one on the road to really take control. And that's the message: We got to come out and play our best game of the series to win tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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