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Steve Kerr explains how last two seasons have been different than first three


OAKLAND — There aren’t many times that Steve Kerr doesn’t respond thoughtfully to a question asking for reflection. Fewer than two hours before the Warriors tipped off with the visiting Los Angeles Clippers in their playoff opener, Kerr put his five-year run as the Warriors head coach in perspective. He opened up about the challenging two-year stint that has followed a more joyous three-year stretch to start the dynasty.

“For me, these last two years have felt different than the first three,” Kerr said pregame. “The first three felt a lot fresher, felt like we were on the climb and on the cusp of something. Even after winning our first one, that next year, we won 73 games. I mean, it was a joyride.  The following year, Kevin arrives. We got a new toy. Everything was sort of new and fresh.

“These last two years, no question, have been arduous. There is no other way to put it. It gets more difficult as you go. The good thing is, we have got a lot of experience. We have made it through the regular season to this point. We are in good shape. We are healthy, and no matter how you get here, you are here, and we are ready to roll.”

Each year, as Kerr alluded to, has presented something different. The first year was about breaking through. The second was about breaking records and repeating, which the Warriors failed to do, in historic fashion. The third, with Durant in the mix, was about living up to expectations as one of the most talented teams ever, and they did, with another championship.

That momentum seemed to tail off a bit last year. It was clear the Warriors fought boredom as they trudged through a regular season that didn’t really matter to them from a win-loss perspective. They earned the No. 2 seed and didn’t seem too upset about not securing the No. 1 seed. They fought injuries throughout the final two months of the season. Stephen Curry did not make his playoff appearance until Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Fast forward one more series, and Golden State went down 3-2 to the Houston Rockets, on the cusp of failing to repeat for a second time. That, of course, did not happen. The Warriors won the final six games of the playoffs, including a sweep over the Cleveland Cavaliers, to win their second straight championship and third in four years.

This year, the Warriors coasted to a 57-25 regular-season record. There were unmistakable bouts of dominance, particularly over other contenders, along with duds to bad teams. Kevin Durant’s impending free agency has added another major wrinkle, as everyone wonders how much longer this team, and this dynasty, will remain.

With the playoffs starting Tuesday, the Warriors have a chance to cement themselves as perhaps the greatest dynasty in NBA history, regardless of Durant’s future.

 

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