OAKLAND – And after his ninth playoff game as a head coach in the NBA, Steve Kerr conceded he lowered the bar for his Warriors without even realizing it.
Kerr praised his team's defense even as it lost successive games – Game 2 and Game 3 – to Memphis in their Western Conference Semifinals series. It was the offense, Kerr said, that failed the Warriors in those games.
After watching his team play suffocating defense in a 98-78 win over the Grizzlies in Game 5 on Wednesday night, Kerr changed his tune.
"I think I said the first couple games, our defense was good enough," Kerr said. "But it wasn't championship defense. And I was wrong. It wasn't good enough.
"This is what it's going to take, this kind of defense from tonight and from Game 4."
[INSTANT REPLAY: Warriors maul Grizzlies in Game 5, go up 3-2]
After holding the Grizzlies to 37.5 percent shooting (22.2 percent from deep) in Game 4 at FedEx Forum in Memphis, the Warriors held the Grizzlies to 39.8 percent (26.7 percent from deep) in Game 5 at Oracle Arena.
With center Andrew Bogut (four blocked shots) guarding the rim and his teammates hustling to contest the perimeter, Memphis missed 10 of its first 11 3-pointers.
It was, all in all, a terrific show of defense by the team that led the league in field-goal percentage defense. It was enough to stimulate a quicker pace, which suits the Warriors much more than the bigger, slower Grizzlies.
"We sped the game up with our defensive activity," Kerr said.
It worked. Expect the Warriors to seek to duplicate the performance in Game 6 on Friday night in Memphis. And consider the bar raised.