Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA, lead the league in many categories like field goal percentage, point differential, assists per game, steals per game. They’re predicted to win the title by virtually everyone and they’ve already won the Pacific Division. Many of those same things were true last season, including a record setting 73 wins, but we all know what happened. The Warriors ended the NBA Finals with a crushing three straight losses.
Since he began coaching in Oakland, Steve Kerr is considered among the best coaches in league and is mentioned almost always right after Popovich and before coaches like Rivers, Carlisle, and Lue. Why is that? For whatever reason, Kerr is never mentioned as one of the reasons why the Warriors collapsed in the Finals last season. In reality, it seem his curious substitutions and lack of in-game adjustments (especially how switches on screens were handled) were a major reason why they fell apart at that critical time.
Steve Kerr inherited a playoff team that had won 98 games the previous two years. Under the tutelage of Mark Jackson, Curry became a star, Thompson improved his game every year, and the team overall had developed a defensive tenacity that many NBA experts would never have predicted. When Jackson was fired, many players and others were shocked by the firing. Dick Vitale Tweeted “This is the THANK YOU @MarkJackson13 gets 4 bringing RESPECT /PRIDE back to Golden State”.
There is no denying Kerr’s strengths: a beautiful looking motion offense, fantastic in-bound plays, the insertion in the starting lineup and development of Draymond Green, the benching of Andre Iguodala and still getting him to buy in, better relations with the media and acknowledged better relations with the front office. The last point is the key here. The San Francisco Bay Area liberal media loves the candid Kerr and they love him even more now after he’s repeatedly blasted President Trump (a blistering 2 1/2 minute press conference rant on November 9 and another 2 minute travel ban related vent on January 29). Mark Jackson’s style on the other hand was very different, especially with his minister background and his very loyal backing of players, he simply was not as adored by the local media.
Portland’s Terry Stotts, OKC’s Billy Donovan (their small lineup was lethal), and the Cav’s Lue out-coached Kerr at times (Cavs blew out GSW twice) in the playoffs last year. The Warriors, as well as they have played this season, were unprepared opening night against the Spurs, collapsed again late in games against the Cavs and Celtics, and have gotten blowout a few times. This team should be better than last year’s 73 win team, especially with 4 players that were All-NBA last year. Green, Curry, Thompson, and Durant most likely will be too much for any team to handle, yet are we so certain that Golden State, when the slow muddy quagmire that is the NBA playoffs begins, can get by a Popovich (Spurs), D’Antoni (Rockets), Stevens (Celtics), and Lue (Cavs)? We will see.