Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is torn. He knows the ultimate goal and prize is to claim a second-straight NBA title, however his players want to gun for a second championship and surpass the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the NBA’s all-time record for most wins in the regular season.
Kerr told reporters Saturday, just hours before a road matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, that he’s erring on the side of caution rather than risking an injury with the postseason just one week away.
The Coach of the Year candidate ruled center Andrew Bogut out of the contest, one of two against the Grizzlies in Golden State’s final three games of the season, and said he and his staff will closely monitor players’ minutes.
Specifically, Kerr also said that resting top bench players Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who played huge roles in last year’s championship run, was a topic of discussion with his staff but that both wanted to play against Memphis.
"The game is certainly not more important than our health," Kerr said. "Our health is the main thing going into next weekend. We're not going to overrun anyone with minutes, we're probably going to play a lot of people and we're going to try to win the game, but not at the expense of wearing people out. If we do it, it's going to have to be as a team and a lot of people will have to contribute."
Kerr added no one will play extensive minutes.
"The one thing I won't do is play anybody 38-40 minutes ..." Kerr added. "No matter what happens tonight, we'll keep minutes down for our key guys and I expect everybody to be ready to contribute and play a solid game."
After handily taking down the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, Saturday’s game against Memphis has little bearing on Golden State’s postseason positioning and would only serve its pursuit of one of the league’s most difficult but tempting records.
With point guard and likely MVP Stephen Curry leading the league in scoring, not to mention the astounding play of shooting guard Klay Thompson and triple-double machine Draymond Green, the Warriors sewed up home-court advantage throughout the postseason after beating San Antonio and most teams and head coaches in their enviable position would rest players in anticipation for the playoffs.
Bogut, who’s dealt with a left knee bruise and left big toe injury but only missed 11 games all season, is expected to return to the court for Sunday’s duel with with the Spurs in San Antonio.
The Warriors good health is one of several reasons they are even challenging the Bulls record, and Kerr won’t take any unnecessary risks. Curry, Thompson, and Green have only missed a total of six games all season and losing anyone from that trio would put Golden State’s chances of repeating in jeopardy.