OAKLAND (CBS SF) – In the pre-dawn darkness, the Golden State Warriors quietly arrived back in the Bay Area early Tuesday with thoughts of unfinished business dancing in their heads.
It was backup guard Ian Clark who carried the NBA Western Conference trophy off the Warriors charter – – not Steph Curry, Draymond Green or Kevin Durant.
In the lockerroom after the game, the team’s celebration was somewhat muted. No champagne was being dumped over anyone heads.
They remember last year and how the Warriors dreams of back-to-back NBA titles came crashing down when they squandered a 3-1 series lead and fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“You try not to take it for granted. It doesn’t happen every year where you are headed to the NBA Finals,” Draymond Green said. “So you appreciate it, but you can definitely sense it is a little different type of feeling…It’s great, everybody is excited about it, but you just see that difference (than in past seasons) It’s kinds of business usual — we’re not finished type of attitude.”
Owner Joe Lacob also certainly remembers the roller coaster ride of the last three seasons, telling ESPN’s Marc Spears that Golden State does not care if it plays Boston or Cleveland in the Finals, but he’d prefer the Cavs.
“I don’t care who we play, but my preference is Cleveland,” he said. “We have some unfinished business.”
However, before Game One tips off Golden State is going to have to keep a sharp edge during a 10-day layoff. The NBA Finals begin in Oakland on June 1st.
Golden State star guard Steph Curry says it helps that the Warriors have become the first team in NBA history to sweep its first three playoff series this season. The team has become accustomed to some down time.
“We’ve been through it all,” he said. “We’ve had every experience (over the last three years) that we can rely on going into the Finals. No matter how it goes and the rest of journey happens, you think you are pretty much prepared for anything.”
The 10-day rest will help center Zaza Pachulia’s ailing heal get better and let Andre Iguodala heal further, but the status of head coach Steve Kerr is still questionable.
Kerr has been absent from the bench for most of the playoffs with an ailing back, but since undergoing a medical procedure at Duke earlier this month Kerr has been at Warriors practices and was in San Antonio with the team.
Green says even without Kerr fully engaged his presence has an impact.
“One thing I’ve always said is Steve does a great job empowering people,” Green said. “From the players to his coaching staff, he empowers everyone so when one guy goes down on the basketball court, the next man up, you see the next guy up.”
“It’s the same with the coaching staff,” Green continued. “Our guy goes down, he’s empowered all his coaching staff to keep everything business as usual. It’s not like it’s a substitute teacher where everyone acts the fool. We have the utmost respect for Mike Brown. He has stepped in and done an amazing job.”