OAKLAND (CBS SF) — It seemed like such an obvious statement, but Golden State head coach Steve Kerr felt compelled to say it following the Warriors NBA Western Conference Finals Game 4 clinching win over Portland Monday night.
The Warriors advanced to their fifth straight NBA Finals — the first team to accomplish the feat since the legendary Boston Celtics of the 1960s. Of course, they are still three games short of Lebron James’ incredible personal run of eight straight NBA Finals that ended this season.
Even with all their success, there are many fans who refuse to give Golden State their due. They scoff at using the word dynasty, they throw out the names of Western Conference teams that should have beat them — Oklahoma City when Kevin Durant was on its roster, the Houston Rockets last year. But they didn’t.
“I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed or underrated,” Kerr said when asked about the fifth straight journey to the Finals. “Five straight Finals hasn’t been done since the 60s. Since Bill Russell’s Celtics. It hasn’t been done for a reason. It’s really, really difficult. So I just can’t say enough about the competitive desire of the group of players we have here.”
“The culture that they have built together. Playing together regardless of injuries. Being without Kevin (Durant) these last five games has put us in a really tough spot and our guys stepped up in a really big way. A couple years back, we were without Steph (Curry) — Over a two-year period, I think he missed like 12 playoff games and we won nine of them.”
“So the group has a fiber where when guys go down, they find a way to come together and compete and win. It starts defensively, if you can defend at a high level in the playoffs, you always have a chance. I just think the experience of winning titles helps you in these moments.”
To add a little perspective, neither the Michael Jordan Bulls, the Showtime Lakers of the Magic Johnson, the Larry Bird-led Celtics or the ‘Bad Boy’ era Detroit Pistons made it to five straight finals.
On Monday night, the Warriors were without injured all-stars Durant and DeMarcus Cousins and 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala was on the bench with a sore Achilles. Still, they manage to close out the Western Finals with a 119-117 overtime win over Portland.
When asked to describe his club’s championship pedigree, Kerr — who played on NBA champion squads in Chicago and San Antonio — said it begins with a deep trust among teammates and coaches.
He particularly pointed to the winning play in overtime when Curry found himself cut off and dished off to Draymond Green — who despite hitting below 30 percent from the 3-point line in the playoffs — drained the winning basket from beyond the arc.
“I think what the championship pedigree means is not panicking in big situations,” said Kerr, whose club came back from double-digit deficits in the final three Portland games to win. “Trusting your teammates, trusting what you are doing out there.”
“I almost called a timeout halfway through that possession because it looked like nothing was happening,” he said of the winning play. “Draymond just did what Draymond does — he hits big shots. He’s a guy who hit five threes in Game 7 of the Finals a few years ago when nobody else could make a shot. He made five threes. He’s not even a three-point shooter. Draymond is just a big game player. Steph trusted him. That was obviously the shot of the game.”
You can talk about trust and intangibles, but for the Warriors and their current dynasty, it comes down to one thing.
“Our guys have been at this for a while,” Kerr said. “They know how to win.”