Kerr, Warriors learned from last year, taking long view this time around
Don't expect the Warriors to chase 74 wins -- but they may get there anyway
When it became attainable, the Golden State Warriors became hyper focused last season on breaking the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' single-season wins record. The Warriors broke that record with with 73 wins, but it came at a cost.
In order to reach 73 wins, Golden State's stars played heavy minutes near the end of the season instead of resting them for the playoffs. This put greater physical and emotional stress on players like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and it may have factored into Golden State blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals against the Cavaliers.
The Warriors don't want to suffer another Finals letdown. The addition of Kevin Durant has made Golden State an even stronger team that could probably win 70-plus games again this season. But Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn't focused on chasing another regular-season record. He wants the Warriors to be focused on making it to the Finals for a third straight year and coming away with their second championship in that span.
In order to accomplish this, Kerr is planning on becoming even more aware of his team's mental state and will continue to manage his stars' minutes
From the San Jose Mercury News' Anthony Slater:
Playoff injuries piled up. The Warriors struggled in both the conference and NBA Finals. Many believed the grind had taken a physical toll. Kerr felt it was more mental.
"We didn't roll our guys out there for 40 minutes," he said. "You look at the minutes per game -- our top guys were down there at 34, 33. So minutes were fine, very similar to the year before. But it was a different sort of emotional feeling. I don't think we'll have that this year. We've kind of been through that. We'd rather win a championship than set a record."
"This year, we're going to pace ourselves somewhat," Kerr said. "But we're also better off having the new blood and the new life because I think it will give us that boost."
Reaching the Finals three straight times is a rare feat and can be emotionally draining for teams. But as Kerr points out, the additions of Durant, David West and Zaza Pachulia will inject some new energy into the team and can help spur on the rest of the Warriors.
Kerr's players share their coach's opinion. Motivated by losing in the Finals, Curry also believes the Warriors should focus on winning a championship. After all, winning a title is one of the main reasons Durant signed with Golden State. He wants a ring not another notable career accomplishment.
Of course winning a championship won't be easy. But the Warriors are entering the season with the right frame of mind and are keeping sight of their goal, which should help Golden State manage the heavy burden of expectations when Durant joined their team in the offseason.
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