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May 14, 2019

Steve Kerr

Oakland, California - Pregame 1

Q. I wanted to see if you could share your thoughts about the Curry brothers playing, the first NBA brothers to be playing in the Western Conference Finals.
STEVE KERR: It's pretty amazing to see these guys playing against each other at this stage of the Playoffs. Just a great story, great family. We have footage of Steph and Seth playing against each other one-on-one when one was about eight and the other was about six, I think, and we showed it a couple years ago at one of our scouting reports before the game to tell Steph that make sure to send Seth left, because I think Seth went right around him going right in that footage at six years old.

So it's kind of fun just to think about. The family must be having an amazing time, and I'm sure it'll be difficult for them to figure out who to cheer for. But just a remarkable family.

Q. Last series you wanted to play Andre [Iguodala] as much as possible to match up with their two perimeter players. Obviously this team has two premier players. Do you see that similarly in the way you might use Andre, especially from the start?
STEVE KERR: It's a little trickier because Houston started three guards, whereas Portland has a more traditional lineup where you've got a couple of pretty big wings with [Moe] Harkless and [Al-Farouq] Aminu and then obviously [Enes] Kanter at center.

But there will for sure be times during the game when we'll match up with Andre, with one of those guards. He's one of the best defensive players in the league, and these guys are two of the best guards in the league. The matchup will happen at some point. Maybe not right at the start, but we'll see how it goes.

Q. You've obviously seen these guys enough, seen them grow over the years. The adversity they've gone through losing Nurk [Jusuf Nurkic], obviously losing Paul Allen. What have you admired about what this club has done to get to this point?
STEVE KERR: Well, I'm a big fan of their team and of Terry's [Stotts]. I watched them quite a bit on our off nights. I like the way they play. I love their crowd, having played for the Blazers one year back a long time ago. It's a great city and great fan base. Very happy for them. They've had almost a magical season, and they've dealt with so much adversity, and I don't think it's a coincidence that they've overcome that adversity because they've got talent and high-character players, and I'm impressed with the continuity, too.

They've stayed together. It's not an easy thing to do these days in the NBA. Most teams want to shake things up as soon as there's any sign of trouble or whatever, and this team got swept in the first round last year, and to come back and have this kind of season, to me it shows the importance of continuity, staying with the coach and the GM and sticking with that lineup.

They've got our respect, my respect for sure.

Q. Of course we know about CJ [McCollum] and [Damian] Lillard. What's your assessment of Zach Collins? Came up big in the last series and just his second year here in the league.
STEVE KERR: Zach, right? He's a really good player. He should only be a junior in college, I think, if my math is correct. So as such a young player, he's come a long way pretty quickly. Very athletic, very tough, very competitive. Played a big role in their Denver series, and I'm sure he'll play a big role in this one.

Q. Given what you saw in Game 6 and assessing your needs with the series, what kind of role have you envisioned the bench having?
STEVE KERR: I think the bench will have a big role. You know, with Kevin [Durant] out and DeMarcus [Cousins], we're going to need everybody. The way we replaced Kevin in Game 6 was by giving a lot of people minutes. Maybe short bursts, but we didn't replace him with one guy, we kind of replaced him with our depth. I think that's the way you'll see it tonight.

Q. Klay [Thompson] shared a little bit yesterday about his practice of meditation and what that's doing for him. What's your take on just the maturity that that shows, that he's found something else that works for him to prepare for games?
STEVE KERR: Well, Klay is always someone who everybody sort of marvels at his life, the simplicity of his life. He just needs a basketball and his dog, and that's it. And we all laugh about it. But Klay is a lot deeper than people realize, so it doesn't surprise me that he's meditating and he's found ways to calm himself before games and keep himself going during the season.

He's been in the league for a long time now. I'm sure Julie [Thompson] and Mychal [Thompson] have had a lot to do with his maturity, and just the way he carries himself. He's a dream to coach. He's zero maintenance. But he'll surprise you with his depth. You may not think there's a whole lot there, but there's plenty there, he just sort of doesn't let you in on it very often.

Q. In speaking to the players yesterday at practice, they said the benefit they got from the weekend off was the mental break. I was a little surprised. I thought it would be maybe more physical. What's the biggest advantage you see when your players get that break on the court?
STEVE KERR: I think it's hard to truly understand how exhausting these Playoffs are for everybody, whether it's a team like ours that's been deep in the Playoffs for the last four years or a brand new team, a young team. But the mental and emotional stress that hits you every day, even on non-game days when there's media, there's demands on your time, there's criticism, there's judgment, if you choose to turn on the TV, they're talking about you, it really wears on you.

And I think when you win a series, there's a tremendous sense of relief for a couple of days. It definitely helps to come back to the Bay and get some sunshine. Felt like going back and forth to Houston there, we were either in a hotel or a tin can 30,000 feet above the earth, and sometimes you just need to be grounded. You need to get outside and feel the fresh air.

And so I think getting those two days off was really big for us, and then we had a good preparation day yesterday and a film session this morning, and hopefully we'll be ready to go.

Q. I'm just curious as a former NBA guard yourself, how much do you look forward to watching these matchups tonight with McCollum and Lillard going up against your great backcourt?
STEVE KERR: I'd much rather watch these guys than coach against them. They're amazing. They're tough to guard. We've seen them a couple times in the Playoffs over the last few years, and so we know how difficult the challenge is.

From a fan standpoint, this is as good as it gets, between Steph, Klay, Damian and CJ. All great players going head to head. It's going to be entertaining. But we've got to find a way to slow those guys down.

Q. What did you learn about -- what do you remember most about your season with the Blazers, and what did you learn about the city of Portland during that year and the fan base and what this type of run could mean to that city?
STEVE KERR: Well, I went up there without my family. My kids were already in school when I got traded from San Antonio, so I went up there and lived on my own. So from that perspective it was a tough year. But it also gave me the chance to explore the city quite a bit, get to know the city.

So Portland became one of my favorite NBA outposts that year, just getting to know the restaurants, the hiking trails. It's just an absolutely beautiful place.

The fans have been raucous and passionate for a long time, going back to the Bill Walton days in the late '70s and probably even before that. But I just remember the incredible support of the fans and the organic nature of the energy in that building. So it was a really fun year. I enjoyed it immensely and enjoyed the city, and so that city always has a place in my heart.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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