The Unreleased Ron Adams Tapes #8: Flipping the switch on defense

Ron Adams dispenses his wisdom.

Ron Adams is the legendary assistant coach whom Steve Kerr brought with him when he began with the Warriors. I’ve always enjoyed his scholarly and thoughtful discussions of basketball.

The Story So Far

The series of exclusive, unreleased Ron Adams chats so far:

I had some interesting chats with him with other reporters present and multiple people asking questions, so they’re not exclusive. But they’ve not been published in full before, so enjoy! These are from right before the 2018 NBA Finals.


Question: The defensive improvement from the regular-season to the playoffs, you've been the most improved defensive team in the playoffs. Is that just an energy and effort thing?

Ron Adams: I think it's that, it's focus. We played up and down in the regular season and now you're in the playoffs, it's really a time of you establishing yourself.

Question: Does it help on that end of the floor to have just one opponent to prepare for?

Ron Adams: I think it always does. You can really spend time preparing, although this has been a short turnaround for preparation for this series [Game 7 Houston was May 28 2018, Finals Game 1 was May 31]. But I think one opponent, you can really lock in. And the guys lock-in, because you know during the regular season you go back to back, and yet you have players on a team, and our guys aren't familiar with them, so you can't prepare everyone for everything. So we just play these games, that's why the D is shoddy at times.

Question: From the regular season to the playoffs, does that start with Draymond? How important is he?

Ron Adams: Oh, he's extremely important. Again, he's a pivotal player in our system, but I think it gets back to the fact that we did a lot of playing in spurts in the regular season. We know who we are defensively, we know we can do. That doesn't leave you, you're still working on defense during regular season. It's the punch, it's the force, it's the focus they bring to the game.

Question: Did you ever get frustrated during the season?

Ron Adams: YES!

Question: Just how you guys didn't play up to your standards? How frustrated did you get?

Ron Adams: I don't have a measuring rod for frustration.

Question: Yet you have understand some of the lapses of defense, right? After four seasons.

Ron Adams: You know it is interesting because some of the teams that I really admire over the course of time, they're playing at this high defensive level, and then all of a sudden it drops off because it is physical, you have to apply yourself. You can't kind of fake it. And quite frankly, I probably I have to say that I really respect the guys so much because they can always settle back to what we need to have done. But I'm an old school guy.

Question: Did you ever worry that you wouldn't be able to get it back?

Ron Adams: No, but I do worry about habits. Habits are not always consistent and that's what I worry about. So it's like we do try to keep it sharp you know, do the things, the fundamentals and stuff….

With any team, there are basics you have to take care of. They [CLE] are a very good rebounding team. Each team gets try to do your best to figure out how to manage LeBron. Huge, always. They have capable shooters, J.R. Smith. All of these guys in the modern game.

It's always the small areas. Defensive transition. Same things they're talking about. Nuts and bolts. I guarantee you they're talking about the same things, 50-50 balls, deep rebounds.

Question: Do you feel it's a different game in the Finals, as far as more clutching and grabbing in the action in some way?

Ron Adams: I think it always is in the playoffs. Both of the conference finals were much the same. I don't think it's going to be any different. I think the League decides to have a different mentality in terms of pushing, which I think is healthy, there's more banging, fewer minor foul calls. Playoff basketball is not always pretty. It's prettier now than it used to be. The intensity is high, the pressure is high, physicality is increasing, so.