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Kerr: “When the playoffs come, all bets are off”
[Notes/quotes/video; re Steph/GP2/Andre/JP +MORE]
Steve Kerr, Nemanja Bjelica and Kevon Looney spoke with reporters at Golden State Warriors practice yesterday ahead of tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz. Below are Kerr’s quotes only, below that is the entire video.
Kerr’s “all bets are off” and “whatever the best lineup is for that night” quips about the playoffs remind me of when I played amateur ball in Asian-American tournaments across California. In one weekend single-elimination tourney at St. Ignatius, I’d gotten picked up by a pretty good group of guys who had a ton of experience. I was the young up-and-comer who didn’t really have any legacy of winning any championships.
In the championship game, early on I was hot off the bench, hitting my few midrange jumpers that I learned how to do with reps upon reps after watching VCR tapes of Michael Jordan. Still, the organizer of the team put me back on the bench during the closing crunch time. We ended up losing the game.
I was kinda pissed, the egotistical and competitive youngster I was. But I look back now and, if I were the coach, I would’ve done the same thing. You have to go with your veterans until the end. Maybe next time if I had another good stint off the bench, he would’ve played me, but that would’ve meant a choosing veteran to sit — there wasn’t ever a next time, and I look back at this memory as just an honor to have been chosen to play on that team that one random weekend.
We came close. I wouldn’t be surprised if none of those guys remembered it the way I do. Had we won, we would all have that bond as a strong mutual memory, but we didn’t and it’s just in the past now and I do still feel honored even if no one else remembers it. We all went our separate ways. It would’ve been nice if there was ever a discussion about our roles. I probably wouldn’t have been as mad about being taken out and would’ve been super-supportive and screamed for my vets, even though it was always likely a one-shot deal for me to play with them. But we obviously didn’t have the benefit of first playing an 82-game grind.
And quite frankly I wasn’t ready yet for the bright lights of single-elimination tournament championships. I don’t know that I ever was, at least for the more prestigious upper echelon “Japanese league” (our colloquial term for it) ones. Those were just super-pressure packed with teams that had a lot of lineage and history and reputations, believe it or not. I’d have a good first thirty minutes in their NCAA-ish clock format — one time I had 21 points in about 36 minutes at the annual Chinese New Year tourney in Chinatown — but I’d always tense up against those great teams in crunch time. Let’s hope the Warriors youngsters fare better than I did…
1:39 , 2 • Closing out the regular season without Steph: “We’ve kind of known that was gonna be the case. We were hoping maybe he could play one game, two games at the end of the regular season, but that was kind of a long shot…his rehab is going fine. Steph has been injured many times…always returned really well. So I’m not too worried about him. All it takes is one made shot and he’s back in rhythm. 🚨 …just following the advice of the training staff…”
• How much can Steph do after he starts on-court activities? “He’ll be on the court with the ball in his hands, ball handling, shooting and movement…progress each day to more and more cutting…up to Rick and the staff.”
1:05 • How much time will it take him to get up to speed? “I’m not gonna speculate as far as how many weeks he misses…because he’s got a foundation of seventy games underneath him and seeing him in the past I think he’ll respond quickly. This is not like starting the season where he doesn’t have a training camp and a foundation beneath him. 🚨 So he’s been in great shape all year. That doesn’t just go away in a couple of weeks…he’ll come back quickly when he does come back.”
0:35 • Different components with young guys: “I don’t really make anything of it because it doesn’t matter. It is what it is…”
1:11, 2 • What can you take from the Phoenix game? “I thought our defense was dramatically better…And and Draymond back in the fold…leaders emotionally…strategically…great to see a more healthy team…”
• Andre: “It’s everything. Is his passing, communication. He’s really our point guard with that unit…guards anybody and everybody and gets the guys organized.”
0:42 • Only had Steph Klay and Dray for eleven minutes: “…again…I don’t think about it. There’s no point. It’s a waste of energy. I just think about what’s next…I’m looking forward, I’m not looking backward.” 🚨
1:13, 2 • Is Gary hobbled? “…in the training room every day…in a pretty good place…sometimes he gets knocked around and you see him limping out there, but all in all he’s healthy…”
• Gary’s impact on defense: “It’s an instant impact from Gary. Soon as he steps on the floor you feel it and it’s on both ends actually. 🚨 The defense is his calling card…playing in that dunker’s spot (on offense)…easy hoops…spaces the floor…”
1:00 • Different guys have earned a rotation spot: “When the playoffs come all bets are off…go with whatever the best lineup is for that night. Regular season, you don’t look at it that way because then you become disjointed and you get a lot of people unhappy and your chemistry can suffer. 🚨 The playoffs are a completely different deal. Every game, you just do whatever it takes to win whatever that matchup is…guys in this team who could play a big role against one team and maybe not even play at all against another…”
1:58 • Growing pains for Wiggins and Poole: “They’re in different situations…the difference between Day One three years ago to now is just dramatic (for Poole)…Wiggs established himself the first half of the season…earned that honor (of All-Star) and then struggled for fifteen games or so…encouraged by his game last night and over the last week it looks like he’s finding his rhythm. Wiggs, when our team is whole, he’s better. Most people ate when the team is right, most players kind of fit in easier, roles become defined…when we’ve got Draymond and Andre, Steph, Klay, Jordan, Wiggs knows exactly what his role is…defending, attacking the rim. He got to the free throw line nine times the other night…”
0:40 • Back to backs: “It’s TBD but it’s likely we will rest some guys. Klay and Andre, pretty much automatic. 🚨…Andre with his age we’re not gonna mess around…(Draymond and Otto are) more up in the air.”
0:47 • What impact can Steph make from the bench? “He’s got such an important voice…we had a good film session today and he had a couple comments…during practice, pulling guys aside, talking to them…his presence is crucial for us…” 🚨
0:48 • Is there a connection between Klay’s unevenness and Steph’s absence? “I haven’t made that connection. In my mind Klay has just pressed because he’s been out so long and because he’s so competitive, he just everything to happen right now…if Steph’s there…Andre…Draymond…things will fall into place a little bit easier for Klay, but we’re just gotta help him to settle in and not be so anxious to get it all back at once…”
0:59, 2 • Do you see Poole also learning Steph’s showmanship? “He’s got a little bit of that for sure. Jordan enjoys that part of the game…ability to stack with the ball or come off screens like Steph is able to do is a great sign…versatile…not one-dimensional…
• Jordan’s wrist okay? “Yeah.”
1:02 • Is the playoff seeding a concern? “We’re shooting for the highest seed we can get. We’re trying to win every game, not at the expense of health…you gotta play somebody. If we could shoot for a first round bye, I’d be really concerned…main thing being as healthy as possible and being in a good place mentally, spiritually, physically…”