SAN FRANCISCO: Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his new-look team is relishing the pressure entering their 2016-2017 NBA campaign opener on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors’ blockbuster off-season move for Kevin Durant has made the already formidable-looking Dubs an even more daunting proposition as they set out to regain their NBA Finals crown.
Kerr, however, said Monday his team of all-stars welcomed the burden of expectation that comes with being able to field a team with Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the line-up.
The experienced coach suggested the pressure could even motivate his team towards surpassing last term’s record-breaking unbeaten start to the season, when the Warriors went 24-0.
“We all have pressure,” Kerr told reporters. “But that’s a good thing. The alternative is, hey, maybe we can win 30 this year instead of 25.
“A lot of the teams in the league have that, teams that have gone through rebuilding stuff, and they’re trying to get where we are.
“So we’re in a really enviable position, we know how lucky we are to be together with this group. We understand the responsibility that comes with it.
“But that’s fine, that’s a good position to be in.”
A sell-out crowd will pack Oakland’s Oracle Arena to watch the competitive Warriors debut of Durant, who has rapidly blended into the Golden State set-up following his arrival from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“He still has some learning to do. But he has really picked up on just kind of the way we play. There’s a little chaos but there’s some pattern to the chaos and I think he’s embracing the chaos, for sure,” Kerr told reporters.
“I think he’s really adapting well and fitting in well. But it’s only been a few weeks, so the little nuances, there’s still stuff that he’s figuring out.”
Durant in the mosh pit
Durant, meanwhile, has rapidly made himself at home in the Bay Area, delighting fans after video footage emerged of him dancing in a mosh pit at a Kanye West concert in Oakland on Sunday.
Kerr laughed about his star acquisition’s weekend exertions on Monday.
“I cut practice short a little bit today because I saw he got a great workout last night,” Kerr joked, adding that he was happy to see Durant quickly assimilate to life in the city.
“He has been into the city, he has been around Oakland, he’s trying to get to know his surroundings as well as possible,” Kerr said.
“This is a beautiful part of the world and a great, interesting place to live and he’s having fun and getting used to everything and enjoying himself.”
Durant, meanwhile, said he had no hesitation about heading to the West concert.
“I was happy I was able to go,” he said Monday, laughing off suggestions that he breached an unwritten rule against celebrities in the mosh pit.
“I’m not a celebrity anyway,” he laughed, adding that he had not been concerned for his safety. “Nah — I’m covered man. I’m covered by a higher power no matter what happens.”