Steve Kerr (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Transcript of Steve Kerr’s comments before Christmas game vs. Cleveland

Golden State head coach addresses Cavs rivalry, Steph’s slump and more

CLEVELAND — The eyes of the NBA world are trained on Cleveland for a Christmas Day rematch of the 2016 Finals.

Before the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr held a lengthy question-and-answer session with the media, during which he addressed several topics.

Check out his full comments below (questions in italics):

Ty Lue said he was going to feature Kevin Love early

They’re going to do that tonight?

Yeah

Oh alright, thanks for telling.

When they publicly say, did you know already they were going to do that?

It’s what they’ve done, otherwise I’m sure he wouldn’t be telling you that. They’ve been doing a good job of getting Kevin involved early and he looks much more comfortable this year than he did last year. And it makes sense now that he’s been there, and accustomed to playing with this group. He’s having a great year and that’s what they do every game: Try to get him the ball early and get him going.

Is Kevin’s comfort what stands out about the Cavs on film?

There’s a few things. I think Dellavedova’s absence jumps out. I think he’s been a big part of their team the last couple years. It’s a different look and they added a couple players — Dunleavy, of course, Liggins now playing with JR out. There’s things that stand out on the tape just as there are for us too. We have more changes than they do obviously. But I think it’s the continuity of having won the championship last year and being together now for over a year. They just look more comfortable now as a group.

Looking back on the Finals, is there any singular frustration of something you guys didn’t do that you want to correct against the Cavs going forward?

Yeah, closing them out when it was 3-1, that was the most frustrating thing. Strategically, not really. Obviously circumstances in the playoffs change every year. Things you can control, things you can’t. Sure we’d like to have some plays back, a few shots back and stuff like that. Other than that, not really. They played great down the stretch in those games and we couldn’t close the deal.

Durant’s presence meant to Steph?

Everybody’s usage is down a little bit because KD handles the ball quite a bit, as he should. So that takes the ball out of Steph’s hands a little more, out of Draymond’s hands. Klay still just shoots everytime he gets it anyways. So that really doesn’t change for him. It definitely changed the dynamics. It’s hard in some ways to add a star player rather than a role player. It’s a great problem to have, but it’s more challenging. We are still not where we need to be in that regard. Steph I think will get more and more comfortable as the season goes, but it’s a little bit of a different vibe for sure.

Does attention on today trickle down to players even though it’s still just a regular season game?

Of course, yeah, it’s Christmas, this is only one of two games where we play Cleveland this year. Everybody’s home watching, it’s a day game. It’s a different feeling, for sure. And it’s exciting. But we also know that it’s just one game, both teams will be competing like crazy and trying to win with the idea and the knowledge taht it probably won’t mean anything come later on in the season. There’s so much basketball to be played, so people shouldn’t draw too many conclusions out of this. Mainly just because, just to get back here, and for them to get back to our place, a lot of things have to go right for both teams: Have to stay healthy, have to stand up to huge challenges in the playoffs. So I think people are going to make a big deal out of this. But it’s a regular season game and there’s a ton of work ahead.

Sense of rivalry between Warriors and Cavaliers?

For sure. Rivalries in the NBA are really made in the playoffs. It’s not georgaphical like it is in college where you’ve got your in-state rival or crosstown rival, whatever it is. It’s all about the playoffs and I guess we’ve played this team 17 times in the last two-and-a-half years, this will be 18. That’s a lot. And especially a team that’s not in your conference. It’s become a really good rivalry and I know we have a ton of respect for their team. And they’ve got a great team. And we feel like we’ve got a great team as well. So it’s fun stuff.

Part of that wants to face them for the third-straight time in the Finals?

Well yeah.

If you could choose any opponent, would it be them?

I don’t go down that path. We just want to be in the Finals. We don’t care who we end up with. We just want to get there. THat’s the goal. We know how hard it is to do. We have a lot of challengers in the West coming after us, a lot of great teams. That’s a long way off.

Has missing Delly hurt the Cavs?

Apparently not. They’ve got a great record. I think it jumps out on tape. They look different. But they’re so talented, they’ve made up for it. You oculd say the same thing about us. We lost a lot of key guys from last year and so do we miss them? Yeah, we miss them a lot. But we’re lucky we have a lot of talent and we’re able to make up for some of those losses and I think Cleveland is the same way. Delly was a huge part of it, but they’ve moved on. They’re playing Shumpert some in the backup point guard role. He’s having a great year. Obviously LeBron handles the ball constantly. They’ve figured it out quickly.

Is there any part of Kevin’s game that you didn’t appreciate until you had him?

Not really. I’ve seen him for so long. His talents are so obvious. It’s not so much on the floor, it’s off the floor. I didn’t know him personally. I didn’t know just what a humble, incredibly nice person he was. I had the sense that was the case from watching him from afar. But when you’re with him every day, you really get the sense of what a good human being he is and what a great teammate he is.

Steph is way down to 40 percent from 3, it’s getting embarrassing

It is. We’re thinking about having him stop shooting for a while.

Do you expect a surge to come? Do you not talk to Steph about it? Is that a product of the offense, KD? How do you address that?

We look at every game. Obviously we watch every tape. The whole thing for our staff is are we getting rhythm shots? Are we getting good shots? I think Steph’s had some that have not gone that normally would go. But you have to acknowledge too the difference in the dynamics, not having the ball so much in his hands. That is an adjustment to make. Usage rate and all that kind of stuff. I think there’s still some adapting going on, for him and for the whole team. The great thing with Steph is he doesn’t worry about it too much. He’s got the confidence of MJ. Very few players I’ve ever seen can miss 10 shots in a row and then make the next one like it’s nothing. Steph does that all the time. He did it last year, he’s done it his whole career. He doesn’t get down on himself. He just keeps playing, he just keeps shooting. And you just know that eventually he’s going to break free.

Compared to last year are you more excited to play because of what happened in the Finals?

Not really. I mean, it’s become a great rivalry because of the Finals meetings. It’s not like we’re coming in here talking about revenge. That’s not part of it. It’s about getting better and about testing ourselves against the best. These games, whether it’s Cleveland or San Antonio or the Clippers, Houston, all the top teams, you absolutely look forward to, so you can measure yourself. But it becomes extra special when it’s Christmas Day and it’s the team you played in the Finals. It’s a special game, but it’s not anything more than that.

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