OAKLAND -- The preseason schedule begins Saturday, which is a bit too soon for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, and the same is true for some of his players.
With seven games spread over 21 days, the preseason surely lasts too long for Kerr, who made clear his feelings about training camp and preseason games.
“I kind of like the idea that’s been tossed around the last couple summers, to start the regular season a little bit earlier, maybe a week early,” Kerr says. “Cut camp down to 21, 22 days and play five exhibition games instead of eight.
“I kind of like that, just so you have fewer back-to-backs during the regular season. A month is usually enough time for everybody to get their legs underneath them and the starters to be ready to play 30-plus minutes.”
Here’s the rub: The Warriors will play on back-to-back nights during the preseason, Oct. 14 against the Nuggets in Denver and Oct. 15 against the Lakers in Las Vegas.
Durant eager to join ‘Death Lineup’
The Warriors fabled “Death Lineup” operates as if every member has been injected with a triple shot caffeine. Everything moves at fast-forward pace, and it can discombobulate even the most composed NBA squad.
Harrison Barnes was among the group of five, and for two seasons he did his job well enough to help lift the Warriors to elite status.
Barnes has been replaced by Kevin Durant, who can do most anything Barnes did -- only better and with an appreciably longer physique.
Durant, listed at 6-foot-9 but closer to 7 feet, will join charter members Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green to form a new quintet that has the right components to be even more imposing than previous versions.
“We haven’t really put lineups together yet,” Durant said, “but I’m sure at some point coach is going to throw that lineup out there.”
Oh, it’s coming. Kerr leans on the unit to shift games into overdrive. The Death Lineup switches most everything on defense, runs the floor like antelope and takes turns attacking the rim and shooting 3-pointers in transition.
“It should be fun,” Durant said. “It’s should be challenging because we don’t have the length to cover the rim. But, defensively, we can switch a lot. We can get out on the break and run and shoot 3s and be athletic in transition. I’m looking forward to it.”
NBA Finals loss oddly aids Kerr
Steve Kerr made an admission this week, and it’s one that he couldn’t quite bring himself to acknowledge while leading the Warriors to a record 73-win season.
Not only was he coping with physical pain but also with a team that occasionally ignored his pleas to focus on execution and value the ball.
“To be quite frank, last year was kind of hard to coach,” Kerr says. “The first year was a lot easier to coach the team, because we hadn’t won anything. It was real easy for me to come here and say, ‘We’re being loose with the ball. That stuff doesn’t work. I know. I’ve been through this.’“
Kerr can go public on the subject now, because he has supportive evidence in the form of a rugged Western Conference Finals win over the Oklahoma City Thunder that preceded a devastating NBA Finals loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The gaudy 73-9 regular-season record gave way to a mediocre 7-7 mark over the final two postseason series.
Though Kerr on numerous occasions mentioned his concerns, even tearing into the team for its needlessly high turnover rate, scolding the Warriors for their sloppiness, it rarely made an impression.
Why would it when the team was winning at a rate unprecedented in NBA history?
“It was like, deaf ears,” Kerr says. “Because we’re 60-7 or something and we’d won the championship the year before, there was a sense of ‘We got this.’
“I think we did learn against OKC and Cleveland, that if we don’t execute, and don’t take care of the ball, you can’t score in that kind of environment.”