PORTLAND, Ore. — Ailing Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he won’t be on the sidelines for Game 4 on Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers because of symptoms stemming from back surgery.
Kerr stayed behind at the team hotel for Saturday night’s Game 3 at Portland’s Moda Center. Assistant Mike Brown took over and the Warriors overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to win 119-113 and go up 3-0 in the first-round series.
Golden State can sweep with a victory Monday night.
The reigning NBA coach of the year still experiences lingering symptoms from complications following two back surgeries after the franchise’s run to the 2015 championship. He missed the first 43 games last season dealing with symptoms such as headaches, nausea and an aching neck.
“This is something I’ve been dealing with, but doing OK. Ups and downs but consistently coaching. This past week for whatever reason, things got worse. My symptoms got worse,” he told reporters at the team hotel on Sunday.
Kerr, who clearly wasn’t feeling well on Friday before the team departed for Portland, hadn’t missed a game this season before Saturday, when he also missed shootaround.
He said that his status for the rest of the playoffs remains uncertain. He is in ongoing discussions with his doctors.
“This is not going to be a case where I’m coaching one night and not coaching the next. I’m not going to do that to our team or our staff. We’re hoping that over the next week or two, whatever it is, I can sort of make a definitive realization or deduction, or just feel it that I’m going to do this or I’m not."
Stephen Curry, who scored 34 points in the Game 3 win, passed the game ball to Golden State GM Bob Myers to give to Kerr on Saturday night.
“He’s obviously going through a lot physically and that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself,” Curry said. “We’ve got his back, we’ve had certain situations all year, previous years, where players are down and you’ve got the ‘next man up’ philosophy, same with Coach Kerr.”
A first-year assistant for Golden State, Brown has plenty of experience as former head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the first of two stints with Cleveland, Brown led the Cavs to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance in 2007. He himself was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2009 when Cleveland finished with 66 wins.
Despite Kerr’s prolonged absence, the Warriors went an NBA record 73-9 last season and played in the NBA championship game. Kerr was named Coach of the Year.
Kerr works out daily and does yoga to help control the symptoms.
“I’m not going to go into details on the symptoms. It’s just discomfort and pain and it’s no fun. And I can tell you if you’re listening out there, if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery. I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anybody get in there,” he said.
The Warriors could also be without Kevin Durant in Game 4 because of a strained left calf.
Durant has missed Golden State’s last two games against the Blazers because of the injury, which occurred in the third quarter of last Sunday’s Game 1 victory against the Trail Blazers. He had 32 points and 10 rebounds in the Game 1 win.
Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain), and Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain) haven’t played either and could be out for Game 4.
Durant had returned from a left knee injury to play in Golden State’s final three regular-season games. He missed 19 games because of the injury he sustained at Washington on Feb. 28.
Kerr said he watched the Game 3 victory with his son.
“You know, I was able to manage the pain and the discomfort over the past year and a half and all of sudden they got worse and I don’t know why,” Kerr said. “We’re trying to figure out why.”