SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors have the gift of time as they head to the NBA Finals.
After wrapping up their Western Conference Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks in five games, the Warriors will have exactly one week off before Game 1 of the Finals, which kicks off Thursday night.
“We gave our guys two days off in a row, which is almost unheard of, in the playoffs or even just the regular season,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday afternoon. “So it was a great opportunity to decompress the last two days. We won’t have official training until tomorrow. It will be the first day where we rely on our opponent. So I’ve said it several times: You go to the final, it’s almost a two-month trip full of stress and fatigue, so if you can build a little break, it’s very meaningful.”
The Warriors took Friday and Saturday off before meeting at Chase Center on Sunday for treatment and light workouts. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday they will hold regular practices.
“With two days off and a week between games, everyone can focus, focus and get the body back where they want it,” Kevon Looney said.
But Looney pointed out that there are also negatives that come with such a long layoff: “Some of the downsides are, you know, it’s stuff like the pace of the game, the form of the game. You have to make sure you’re doing everything you normally do to stay sharp.”
Perhaps the biggest pro of the Warriors’ longer hiatus is the time it gives the team’s injured players to come back. Andre Iguodala (neck), Gary Payton II (elbow) and Otto Porter Jr. (foot) each missed all or part of the Western Conference Finals and could be a game changer in the Finals.
Each of them are progressing well, the team said on Sunday, and they should be slowly incorporated into team practices this week. By joining the group activity, the Warriors will have a better idea of their availability for the final.
No matter who the Warriors face — whether it’s the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat — Golden State will retain home-court advantage. The Warriors have a better record than the Celtics and have the same record as the Heat, but won both regular season games against Miami, giving them the tiebreaker. The Heat host the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals Sunday night at 8:30 a.m. ET.
As soon as the Warriors beat the Heat in March, Kerr said he knew his team had just secured home ground against any team in the Eastern Conference. But it wasn’t something they were necessarily aiming for at the time, just an added bonus for the rest.
“The last weeks of the season we were struggling to cross the finish line with Draymond’s injuries [Green] and Steph [Curry] and we had some tough times there. Luckily we had banked a bunch of wins early which gave us some needed cushion,” Kerr said. in strength. “
Home ground gives the Warriors another gift in the form of time: they don’t even have to think about flying for another week. Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8.
“Being in our beds for 11 days is very helpful,” Kerr said.
“It’s always special to play at home,” Looney said. “Being able to follow your routine, sleep in your own bed, get ready at home and do things you’re used to is much more comfortable. It’s much better to release the nervousness at home. house, when the crowd comes towards you.”