Steve Kerr: “We're trying to get back to building habits”

(Click here, if you are unable to view this photo gallery on your mobile device.)

Want Warriors news in your inbox? Sign up for the free DubsDaily newsletter.

OAKLAND — The Warriors are fried from the mental exhaustion of three consecutive seasons that went all the way through the NBA Finals. They are bored with these mid-season games of such little significance.

Add it up and you get two losses in the past three games.

Advertisement

Much as the Warriors wish the All Star break were today, rather than 10 days from now, they must keep grinding. According to coach Steve Kerr, Draymond Green told ’em so during a recent meeting.

"‘Let’s go into the break in good fashion,’" Kerr recalled Green saying. "’That will make the break even more fun. You’ll feel rejuvenated a little. Then you can come back strong.’"

OTo subscribe to the Planet Dubs podcast, click here.

The Warriors (41-12) might find some motivation this week. Tuesday they open a four-game homestand that includes visits from the Oklahoma City Thunder (30-24) and the San Antonio Spurs (34-21).

“The excuse we had last week is no longer an excuse,” Kerr said. “We’re going to be in our own beds the next week and we have great teams coming in. We should feel like this is a week we can take advantage of and be alert going into the break.”

After a day off Sunday, the Warriors practiced Monday. Stephen Curry was back after attending the Super Bowl. David West was back after attending funeral services for former teammate Rasual Butler. Kerr deemed it a “good practice.”

One focus was defense. The Warriors’ defensive rating (109.2) over the past month ranks 23rd in the league.

“We’re trying to get back to building habits,” Kerr said. “We had some bad habits of late.”

Since Curry returned from a sprained right ankle that sidelined him for 11 games, the Warriors have averaged almost 15 turnovers game (21st in the league). They averaged nearly 20 turnovers in the last three games. And, as Kerr pointed out to his players Monday, their opponents have had more possessions in 15 of the last 17 games.

Curry found a silver lining in that stat.

“We know it’s something we can control,” he said. “You just got to have a certain level of care about what you’re doing.

“Obviously, everybody wants to shoot the ball well and we want to have those moments during the game where the ball is moving side to side and everybody is getting the ball. It’s a beautiful style of basketball. But things that go into having an edge is the level of care, intensity and mental focus. It’s about being physical, being smart and not giving another team any kind of life with mental lapses.”

Kerr has often preached about such qualities, arguing that having an “edge” has helped the Warriors rank among the top five in defensive efficiency the past four seasons, including the one before he arrived. With the sharpness growing dull, Kerr has reemphasized his message with more film and drill work instead of raising his voice.

“I’d like to see us come back after the All-Star break to really turn it up,” Kerr said. “But for now, we’ll talk about the issues and not grind them to death. But I’ll keep them mindful on what we’re trying to accomplish and take advantage of these next four days at home and try to get back on track a little bit.”

As the Warriors have tried to get back on track, Curry has reminded himself of the 2016 NBA playoffs. Then, the Warriors broke the NBA regular-season record (73-9) over the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team. But as Curry observed, “we weren’t playing good basketball” before squandering a 3-1 series lead and ultimately losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.

“The only reminder you need is what that felt like going into that playoff run,” Curry said. “We scratched and clawed our way to the Finals again. But looking back, we didn’t have the right habits and perspective about how we’re playing versus winning games down the stretch. That’s the only reminder I need.”

So with the Warriors recently playing as if they do not want to try until the playoffs start, Curry sensed that “it can’t wait that long.

“I never like giving ourselves an out. I feel like we hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Curry said. “Two banners up and we change the culture around here on what it means to be a winning team consistently. There’s a little fight in that human nature with four years into this grind.”