Oakland: Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is prepared for his team to make a slow start to the season as they open the defence of their NBA crown against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
They tip-off their 2018-2019 season at Oracle Arena with the traditional banner-raising ceremony to salute their third NBA Finals crown in four seasons. The Warriors will be chasing a rare hat-trick of NBA titles this year when they aim to become the first franchise since the 2000-2002 Los Angeles Lakers to win three consecutive championships.
Kerr, however, does not expect the Warriors to hit the ground running, noting that injuries and inconsistent defensive displays in pre-season showed that there was still plenty of work to be done.
The Warriors have confirmed that veteran guard Shaun Livingston will be questionable for Tuesday's opener with a foot injury while Draymond Green is short of game-time.
"We're not in perfect shape," Kerr told reporters on Monday, adding, "Shaun is questionable. Draymond only played one and a half games I think and needs more conditioning. So we've got some young guys we're going to count on."
Kerr said while he was satisfied with the team's training camp, a patchy pre-season indicated the Warriors needed to tighten up on defence. The Western Conference favourites won only one of five pre-season games and closed with back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Lakers. "Camp was great, but we had a let-up last week defensively," Kerr said.
"We're trying to address those mistakes that we made and we'll see where we are tomorrow night. I don't anticipate that we're going to be in high gear right away. We're not going to be nearly as good tomorrow as we will be down the road," he added.
Kerr, meanwhile, admitted that the banner-raising game was always a personal highlight of the season. "It's a huge night, an emotional night," he said.
"It's a night to celebrate and a night for our fans to enjoy. Then you have to tip it up right afterwards and that's the challenge, from celebrating to competing just like that. Fortunately we've been through it a couple of times and hopefully, we'll adapt and get into the flow of the game," said Kerr.
"They're just really fun and exciting occasions. The best part is watching the banner go up because that's what we're trying to do. Every year we're trying to raise the banner for the franchise, for each other and for the fans. It's a proud moment. The (championships) rings are great and obscenely beautiful — but the moment the banner goes up is the best for me," he added.
Updated Date: Oct 16, 2018 11:35 AM