OAKLAND — “Nervous is good.”
Steve Kerr channeled a little Gordon Gekko in his pregame press conference before Game 5 of the NBA Finals. His Warriors are up 3-1, but gave the Cavaliers a little life in Game 4 when Cleveland’s offense exploded. Kerr, and the Warriors players, have said since the end of the last game they didn’t come out with the urgency while the Cavaliers did. Kerr wants to see that on Monday night at home, but he used the word nervousness. And fear.
“For us as a team tonight, we have to be more on edge,” Kerr said. “I hope we’re a little more nervous. We didn’t seem that nervous in Game 4. Nervous is good. Appropriate fear is the Gregg Popovich line. You need that. And when we come out the beginning of Game 4 and lose shooters and turn the ball over carelessly, we’re obviously not ready. So I would hope we’re more ready, more prepared tonight.”
After dropping Game 4, and with the specter of last year’s blown 3-1 lead over the series, do the Warriors feel the pressure of Game 5?
“Probably not as much pressure as they do,” Kerr said. “Just doing the math.”
One thing to watch early in this game is which team is aggressive, and which team is the most physical (also, how the referees call it after last game). Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said he don’t know why it took four games for his team to play with an appropriate level of physicality, but he said they need to replicate it on the road.
“We just have to play well,” Lue said. “I think try to duplicate what we did last game of being physical, getting back in transition, holding this team to only 14 points in transition, which is going to be tough. But I thought offensively we were really good. We didn’t turn the basketball over. We got back in transition. So that’s a big part of the game.”
Kerr is counting on his team to match that physicality.
“Being physical isn’t just about pushing and holding and grabbing,” Kerr said. “It’s about fighting over a screen. It’s about playing the game plan the way you’re supposed to, knowing personnel and being a step ahead of the game. When you fight over the screen, if the screener grabs you, the ref is going to call it. If you die into the screen and the screener grabs you, they’re not going to call it.
“We were dying into a lot of screens. We didn’t deserve a lot of calls the other night. They were the aggressor. Every time, in my experience in The Finals, when you have one team that’s much more aggressive than the other, things tend to go their way.”