Warriors trying to stay sharp while waiting for 2nd round
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) If the Golden State Warriors are worried about a week off disrupting their rhythm, they sure have a strange way of showing it.
Coach Steve Kerr played golf as soon as he got back to the Bay Area. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and several assistant coaches watched the Santa Cruz Warriors win the NBA Development League championship. And star Stephen Curry missed Monday's practice due to an undisclosed personal reason.
The Warriors have plenty of time to tend to other matters. After sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans out of the playoffs, Golden State has seven days between games - and maybe more - before facing Memphis or Portland in the second round.
''I think this week off is perfect,'' Kerr said. ''It gives us a chance to take a breather, enjoy the fact that we're 71-15, what a great year it's been and let's keep it moving. We'll have all week to prepare and get our bodies right, think about what we've accomplished and think about what's to come.''
If Memphis closes out Portland in six games or fewer, the Warriors will open at home against the Grizzlies on Sunday. Otherwise the Warriors will start the second round May 5.
The Grizzlies lead the series 3-1 after losing Monday night in Portland. Game 5 is Wednesday in Memphis.
Kerr said the biggest challenge is striking a balance between rest and rhythm, and he has more experience than most rookie coaches on this matter. He routinely received extended time off between rounds during his days playing alongside Michael Jordan on the Chicago Bulls and under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio.
Kerr plans to work his players in practice to avoid rust. The Warriors went through a light practice Monday, will scrimmage against each other Tuesday, take Wednesday off and begin focusing on their second-round opponent when they reconvene Thursday.
''Anytime you have a weeklong break, it means you're still in the playoffs and it means you probably just handled your business pretty well,'' Kerr said. ''And that's how I look at it.''
It's the longest layoff between games since the All-Star break in mid-February, though the Warriors are as healthy as any team can hope at this time. Reserve forward David Lee is returning from a strained lower back that kept him out of the first round, Green said his sore left ankle is fine and Curry is expected at Tuesday's practice after dealing with a personal issue.
The Warriors believe the time off might do more good mentally. They had just two practice days between the end of the regular season and Game 1 against the Pelicans and haven't had a moment to relax or recharge.
''I think it helps all of us,'' Thompson said. ''I think it gives us kind of like a reset button and makes us have those anxious feelings again like we did going into Round 1. I think we'll all be really excited come Friday and Saturday.''
The Warriors were in no mood Monday to talk about a potential matchup with Memphis, even though the Grizzlies are the most likely to advance. No team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 series deficit.
The Warriors went 2-1 against the Grizzlies this season, winning once at home and once on the road. Their only loss in the season series came without center and defensive stopper Andrew Bogut, whose role is even more pivotal against Memphis' physical frontline f Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
For now, the Warriors will watch and wait to see when - and who - they'll play next. They're not concerned with how long the Grizzlies-Blazers series goes; rather, they're just trying to tend to their own preparation.
''We got to focus on what we do,'' Green said. ''That was our focus throughout the whole first series and that's going to be our focus throughout the playoffs.''
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP