TORONTO — As the music began, signaling the start of the Golden State Warriors’ practice session, Kevin Durant wandered out onto the court with a hoodie, a baseball cap and slides, making it clear he was here just as an observer. But with one of their stars still sidelined and two days removed from a Game 1 loss to the Raptors in the NBA Finals, this was what the Warriors considered fun.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr had noted Friday that being down and in a hostile environment is what makes it fun, allowing the team to test itself. Steph Curry considered this and offered, “It would have been way more fun being up 1-0. But it’s definitely fun in terms of the challenge of being on this stage and understanding one game doesn’t define a series. It’s an opportunity for us tomorrow to come out and get one, be 1-1 going back home, which any road team would love that opportunity.”
Whatever side of the argument they found themselves on, the Warriors were united in one thing — that the Game 1 loss had not swayed their confidence.
Immediately after the game, the Warriors bemoaned their play, pointing to their transition defense as a flaw, and the days since had only reinforced that.
Having seen the Raptors in person only twice this season, both times in November with both teams missing stars, the Warriors seemed surprised by the speed and length of Toronto. Kerr and Curry said that in video sessions, they had seen those flaws on display. If their experience and intelligence made them aware of these problems in real time, the tape pounded the lesson home.
“It helps to see it, for sure,” Curry said. “I would say the majority of guys out there, you may feel a certain way, but it’s even more glaring when you can kind of see the flow from offense to defense in transition or the missed rotations or sloppy turnovers, where there’s a more simple pass that you could have made and stuff like that. You can actually freeze-frame it and take that picture in so that you can adjust for Game 2.
“Film never lies, as every coach has said. You can’t argue with what you see on there, and we learned a lot.”
“It’s great to have the videotape,” Kerr said. “That’s where you can really learn. We had a good film session yesterday. We’ll have another one today. I think a team like this that pushes the ball relentlessly, it’s not enough to just say, hey, guys, transition defense is important. I think you have to feel it, and we felt it the other night. They ran the ball right past us several times. As I said the other night, our transition defense was very poor, and that has to improve.”
Other than Durant, who Kerr said will remain sidelined with a calf strain, there was an insistence that the other banged-up players would not be slowed.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of Kawhi Leonard, who seemed slowed by the leg injury that has been a constant through the last two years, “I don’t think the leg trouble is much of an issue. And I’m expecting him to play a lot better tomorrow.” The Warriors’ Andre Iguodala said he was playing and the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry shrugged off his left hand injury.
The Raptors ran past the Warriors in Game 1, much the way Golden State has against so many opponents. The consensus seemed to be that they played well and the Warriors had done themselves in a bit with a lackluster effort.
“Probably a combination of both,” Klay Thompson said. “Give them credit. [Pascal] Siakam was running the floor like a gazelle. They were getting the ball off the rim and just pushing it. Instead of crashing as hard as we did, we’ll have to make the adjustment in Game 2 and try to send more guys back. But 10 days off as well, we might have had a little cobwebs. It was just a mixture of things. But I know this: I know we’ll be better tomorrow. So that’s always a good thing.”
Golden State is confident of winning Game 2 without Kevin Durant.