The Golden State Warriors went unchallenged in their first-round playoff series against Portland, sweeping the Trail Blazers even without the services of head coach Steve Kerr, who is suffering through chronic back pain.
Kerr’s absence didn’t hurt the Warriors against Portland, and it might not hurt them against Utah, which dispatched the Clippers in seven games. But what about the Spurs or Rockets? Or, potentially, the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals?
“(It’s) not really (a detriment),” NBA-TV analyst Tim Capstraw said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think he’s doing things on his own. I think the system is in place. I don’t think anything is shocking. I think at that part of the season, I think teams kind of make your calls. I think that group could just figure it out on their own anyways. I just think they’re that smart. I think it’s extra motivation for them, and probably last year will serve as a monster wake-up call to this group not to relax one bit. I think (Kerr’s absence) provides extra motivation.”
The Rockets and Spurs will square off in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday. The winner of that series could give the Warriors a scare, but in the end, Capstraw expects Golden State to reach its third consecutive NBA Finals.
“I think there could be some drama, no doubt,” Capstraw said, looking ahead to the Western Confercen Finals. “But I’m just very impressed by (the Warriors) so far. Look at their firepower. Look at how they play. And you don’t appreciate it enough because it’s not as obvious, but look at how they defend. Look at how they stop people, the passion (with which) they play defense, how well-connected they are on defense, their length. Kevin Durant being healthy again right now, his length, everything he can do and his defense – that is an impressive, impressive team.”
Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green form the best foursome in basektball, but even JaVale McGee, Ian Clark and Andre Iguodala are making significant contributions. McGee averaged 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds against Portland, while Clark and Iguodala averaged 8.5 and 7.3 points, respectively.
This team is also more well-rested than last year’s version – mentally and physically.
“Last year, they went for it in the regular season and broke a record,” Capstraw said. “They paced themselves this year. They look pretty darn awesome to me.”
Golden State will face Utah in the conference semis. Game 1 is Tuesday at ORACLE Arena at 10:30 p.m. ET.