OAKLAND (CBS SF) — With the Golden State down by 20 and playing poorly in Game 1 of the NBA playoffs Sunday, one could only wonder if the locker room talk at halftime would rattle the rafters.
Instead, it was the calming voice of ailing coach Steve Kerr that helped steady the ship.
Kerr has been missing from the Warriors sidelines during the NBA playoffs as he battles an ailing back that has left him with headaches, nausea and fatigue. But that doesn’t mean he’s been absent from the locker room and practice court.
Late last week, he underwent a surgical procedure at Duke and on Saturday he was back at practice. On Sunday, dressed in jeans and Warriors sweatshirt, Kerr watched the first half from the bowels of the Oracle Arena.
And at halftime, with video cameras rolling, it was Kerr and not assistant coach Mike Brown who addressed the team. His demeanor and tone revealed way he has been the most successful NBA coach since entering the coaching ranks three years ago.
“We’re a little out of sorts because we are trying to push and now we are turning it over a little bit,” he said. “I thought our defense was really good in the first quarter, but then we turned it over. They got some easy ones so now we playing from behind. And in the second quarter we got out of sorts.”
“So get your poise back. Wings run like crazy. Just settle in on three stops in a row. Let’s get three stops in a row and the push will come from that. The pace will come from that. Settle in and we’ll be all right.”
The talk — combined with an injury to San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard — helped spark a second half rally that saw the Warriors pull out a come-from-behind 113-111 victory.
Steph Curry scored 19 points in the third quarter and went 7 for 16 on 3s and 14 of 26 overall as the Warriors overcame their largest halftime deficit ever in the postseason at 20 points.