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May 26, 2022

Steve Kerr

Golden State Warriors

Game 5: Postgame

Warriors 120, Mavericks 110

STEVE KERR: Before I get to questions, I just want to congratulate Dallas on a great series. Hell of a season. One of the things I've learned in my time in the NBA is in order to be at your best, you have to face great teams, you have to face threats that are really difficult. You got to feel that stress. You got to feel the nerves.

That's what brings out the best in our team, in any team, it's competition at the highest. Dallas was brilliant. Luka Doncic is impossible to guard. Jason did a fantastic job. They had a brilliant season. Like I said, it was a hell of a series.

We had to battle like crazy, and we're thrilled to have won.

Q. Your team has made it to six finals in eight seasons. What level of competitiveness does that require? How special is it to do this?

STEVE KERR: It's pretty amazing. It's so difficult to get to the Finals. An NBA season is such a marathon, to get through the 82, to get through three rounds of the Playoffs, beating the best teams in the league to get there, it's frankly exhausting. It's stressful, emotional, physically tiring, all of that stuff.

For our team, our guys, especially the core group, Dray and Steph, Klay, Loon, Andre, to be part of that six times in eight years, I don't even know what to say. It just takes an enormous amount of skill and determination and work.

I couldn't be prouder of our guys.

Q. Saw some emotion out of all of them. You got the Finals coming up. Is there a sense of coming back, a cycle, there's a completion to get back to the Finals after where you were the last two seasons?

STEVE KERR: Absolutely. I mean, these last couple years have been difficult with the injuries, worst record in the league two years ago. Last year felt like we spent the year trying to get back on track. And I think we did at the end of the season. I thought last year's finish, even though we lost in the Play-In, winning 15 of our last 20, kind of finding our mojo a little bit, and knowing Klay Thompson was coming back this season, I thought last year was a springboard into this one.

Really proud of the guys for really being resolute the last couple years in terms of getting their work in every day on the court, in the training room, knowing that it was the only path back here, and not knowing if we could do it.

It's an incredible sense of accomplishment for our group.

Q. When you came to the Warriors, they had a bit of an established -- they had become good. What do you think has made Steph, Draymond and Klay work so well as a core trio?

STEVE KERR: I think they're a really unique trio just in terms of how they complement one another in every way. They're such different players. Draymond is kind of our point forward. He's the best defender in the league. He's our emotional leader.

Steph and Klay already established themselves as this amazing shooting backcourt. But they needed each other from the beginning.

Klay handling some of the tougher defensive assignments to allow Steph to be able to focus more on the offensive end. Then the three of them together, the way they move the ball, they pass and cut, it's beautiful to watch.

Q. It's obviously been a really hard trek back to the mountaintop for all of you guys. Considering what Klay has gone through over the last two and a half years, do you especially feel a certain amount of pride for him?

STEVE KERR: Yeah, no doubt. I'm happy for everybody. I could go down the list. Each player has a unique individual background and story. I'm happy for all of them.

It's hard not to be most excited for Klay, given what he's been through. The two-year absence, the fight that he's been through to get back to this point. Just incredible accomplishment for him. For him to be a part of it, he's so happy again. It's wonderful to see.

Q. All season long with the injuries, people coming in and out of the lineup, we've talked a lot about your depth, next man up. The series without Gary, Andre, without Otto, having two guys like Moses and Belly, who hasn't played at all this series, was it an accumulation of that depth that we've been talking about?

STEVE KERR: Yeah, I mean, Belly was just brilliant tonight. If I was a little smarter I would have played him a little earlier in the series. Honestly he's such a good basketball player. He understands the game. The ball moves when he's out there. Did a great job defensively tonight.

But those minutes were huge. Without Otto, we really missed the two-way combination that Otto brings. I thought Belly provided that tonight. He was really good at both ends.

Moses gave us great minutes in the first half. Second half when they decided to play Luka the whole half, we just wanted to stay with Wiggs and mirror those minutes. I thought Wiggs was just amazing, the determination to stay with Luka the entire game. Wiggs is an amazing athlete. He just didn't seem to get tired. Picked him up full court the entire series, made him work for everything. Yeah, those guys were great.

Q. Steph won the first Magic Johnson Western Conference MVP trophy, what did you see from him as far as the challenge for this series and where do you see his level of play as he enters the Finals again?

STEVE KERR: I mean, he's our engine offensively. Everything revolves around him. We got a lot of great players around him and guys who fit well together. It all starts with Steph.

He just creates so much havoc for the defense, that even on a night like tonight where he doesn't shoot the ball that well, he forces rotations and he frees up other players.

His defense all year has been totally underrated. He's as strong as he's ever been. He's just able to, you know, conditioning-wise to play 35 minutes tonight, fighting over screen after screen after screen after screen, then at the other end be on the ball, get people open, knock down his shots.

Steph's incredible.

Q. We've talked at the beginning of the season there were so many question marks around this team, what this team could be. You obviously have exceeded those expectations. How satisfying is it to be at this stage, level, because of all the adversity you've had to overcome? Is this one maybe even more gratifying knowing what you had to deal with to get here?

STEVE KERR: Yeah, it's incredibly gratifying. It's very different. Kind of had a flashback tonight to I guess would have been seven years ago, when we beat Houston to get to the Finals at Oracle. We were up 10 or 12 with 30 seconds left. I remember the place was just rocking. I just looked through the arena and I couldn't believe that we had gotten to the Finals.

Tonight was different because we've done it. It wasn't the first time. We've done it before. But in a different way it was incredibly meaningful given everything that we've been through organizationally over the last couple years.

I think it's obviously all about talent and the players. They're the ones who were doing all the work. But we're really lucky to have great people in the organization, great ownership, incredible front office. The continuity and the connection we have together is really important.

Q. Everyone is asking about how meaningful this is. Are you able to notice from Steph, Dray, Klay, the guys who have been here, Andre, are you able to notice are they receiving this in a different way? Do you see them this being more meaningful to them?

STEVE KERR: Yeah, we shared hugs and thoughts out there. No doubt we're all feeling the same thing. What a tough few years it's been since the '19 Finals.

To get back again is special for all of us.

Q. The only other time this has been done in the last 30 years was the Bulls, '91 and '98, which you were obviously part of that. What kind of parallels do you see between those runs? They had an unusual two-year absence when Michael played baseball, you had the unusual two years in not making the Playoffs. How do you see the history there?

STEVE KERR: I think the common denominator is just talented players who are fierce competitors. Whether you talk about Michael and Scottie, Steph, Draymond, Klay, it takes a special kind of athlete to have both dynamics.

The skill and the athleticism and all that, but to also be just incredibly competitive and to want to win so badly. It's the only way you can have a run like that because you get exhausted, you get tired, you get frustrated.

If you don't have that type of competitive desire and that type of skill combined, it's just not going to happen six times out of eight years.

Q. You don't have a classic front line, you haven't built it that way. You outrebound Memphis almost every game, including a massive amount in the clincher. You outrebound Dallas tonight. You might be seeing a much bigger team in the Finals. How do you think your front line matches up? Can you piece it together against just about anybody?

STEVE KERR: Well, we'll see who we play. Obviously that series isn't over yet. We'll be watching tomorrow.

But every series is different. So you go into whatever matchup you're facing and you try to figure out what the best way to play will be.

As you've seen, we've had a lot of different lineups and combinations based on our opponents. Loon has been amazing. He was incredible tonight again. Our bench has played really well.

The fun part is we have I guess about a week or six days, whatever it is, and we'll have some time to prepare. That's what the coaches will be doing the next few days once the opponent is set. That's the fun part for us. The players get a little break now. They deserve it. They're exhausted.


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