Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr backed his team to “turn the page” on their shocking NBA Finals opening loss as they attempt to square the series against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
Golden State, tipped as favorites to claim a seventh NBA championship before the series began, were sent spinning to a stunning defeat in game one on Thursday as the Celtics overturned a 12-point fourth quarter deficit to go 1-0 up.
The manner of that loss — with the Celtics erupting to outscore Golden State by 40-16 in the final quarter — left many commentators wondering whether the shellshocked Warriors had suffered lasting psychological damage.
The Celtics could take a vice-like grip on the best-of-seven series with a victory in game two in San Francisco on Sunday before the series moves back to Boston for games three and four.
Kerr however insisted on Saturday that his experienced line-up had already dusted themselves down after Thursday’s defeat.
“The value of experience, playoff experience, is that you really do understand the ups and downs of a playoff series,” Kerr said Saturday.
“It’s really important to turn the page one way or the other. You know, if you win and you get happy and you let your guard down, then you’re in trouble.
“And if you lose and you feel sorry for yourself, then you’re in trouble doing that, too.
“It’s all about how you respond. These guys are the best athletes, best competitors on earth, and a huge part of competition at the highest stage is your emotional and mental approach.”
Kerr and his coaching staff and players have pored over the fine detail of Thursday’s loss and pinpointed a lax approach throughout the game — rather than merely Boston’s epic fourth quarter — as the cause of the defeat.
‘Like an avalanche’
“I thought we got away from ourselves in the first quarter in terms of game plan,” Kerr said. “I think everything that happened in the first three quarters helped the process in the fourth for them to get going the way they did.
“The film showed the good and the bad. We had some good stretches, and then obviously the fourth quarter was like an avalanche.
“But again, we let our guard down earlier in the game, and that allows guys to be more comfortable when they are taking shots. And when you get a couple of early ones that you get a really good look at it, it just makes every shot easier after that.”
Kerr meanwhile dismissed a suggestion that stars Draymond Green and Stephen Curry might have shown signs of complacency after game one by suggesting the loss was an anomaly.
“Draymond and Steph have been in the Finals six times now. They have seen it all,” Kerr said. “They have won championships. They have lost championships. They have had their heart broken. They have had parades. This is all part of it.
“So that’s the right mental approach, and that’s one that’s born out of experience.”
Defensive linchpin Green meanwhile said he had paid little attention to the exterior “noise” surrounding the game one defeat.
“It’s the world we live in — clickbait headlines, who can get the most views, who can say the most outlandish thing,” Green said Saturday. “That’s just the world we live in.
“Ultimately you have to be able to block the noise out because the noise is going to be there. We come out and win tomorrow, everything’s back to normal. The Warriors are fine.
“They’re going to go on the road. You know they can win a playoff game on the road.”
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