Programming note: Watch "Warriors Playoff Central" tonight at 5:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Plus, and immediately after Game 6 on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Both shows will also be streamed live right here.
OAKLAND – The Warriors now know Steve Kerr well enough to comprehend that his ambition never sleeps. And that success for the rookie coach is not only defined by winning.
It's always about setting a standard and consistently meeting it.
So while the 7-2 record in these playoffs is good enough to have the Warriors on the brink of advancing to the Western Conference Finals, Kerr firmly believes his team has yet to reach its current potential this postseason.
As the Warriors try to eliminate the Grizzlies in Game 6 Friday night at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Kerr longs for a game he can point to as the model for which the Warriors should strive. A showcase game, if you will.
"We're still making some silly plays," Kerr said after the Warriors took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Turnovers – Kerr's pet peeve – keep coming. The Warriors are averaging 15.6 per game in the playoffs, more than any of the other 16 teams to reach the postseason, including those already eliminated.
After leading the NBA is scoring average (110.0 points per game) in the regular season, the Warriors rank sixth (101.6) in the postseason. They led the league in field-goal percentage (47.8) in the regular season and rank second (45.5) among all postseason teams.
After leading the league in field-goal percentage defense (42.8 percent) in the regular season, they rank sixth (43.6) in the postseason.
The numbers were bound to change in the playoffs; they always do. But Kerr's vision doesn't change.
"He's been preparing for this for a long, long time," associate head coach Alvin Gentry, who has known Kerr for more than 30 years. "He wants things to be a certain way, at a certain level, and he's not going to let go of that."
There are signs, however, that things are on the rise. The Warriors shot 47.5 percent in Game 4 and 46.9 percent in Game 5, while holding Memphis to below 40 percent in both games.
It's the defense that brings a trace of a smile to Kerr's face. So he clings to that.
"If we can defend at a high level, we know we're going to be able to get out and run and get some open shots," Kerr said. "(Game 5) was much better. Our ball movement was better. Our passing totals were up: 28 assists. So even with the turnovers, I was happy with a little better flow.
"But it all came off the defense."
Only twice in the nine games has the offense really heated up, shooting more than 50 percent from the floor. Though Kerr credited the Pelicans (in the first round) and credits the Grizzlies for their defensive work, that doesn't mean he accepts it.
But it's easier to do so when the wins are coming. And winning is easier when the 3-pointers are falling, wiping out some of the deficiencies.
Right, Steph Curry?
"We're still getting better, and that's the great thing about our team is we understand we have some more room to grow," Curry said. "It's going to be a process, and it's going to be hard."