LOS ANGELES — The text landed a little after 9 on Friday night. The Golden State Warriors players had decided — of their own volition — to move practice up from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. the following morning.
“I got the text at night, 9:15 or so, and it was like, ‘Adjust accordingly,'” Warriors small forward Kevin Durant said with a smile.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has always let his players weigh in on the start of practices and other team activities. It’s his way of giving his players a sense of ownership over their schedule — but also letting them know that he trusts them to be professional enough to do what they need to do to perform.
So when Kerr got a text from team manager Eric Housen, letting him know the players wanted to practice early to prepare for the 12:30 p.m. start to Game 4 of their ﬁrst-round playoff series against the LA Clippers on Sunday, he smiled, too.
“I don’t know if that’s ever happened,” Kerr joked. “But it’s a good sign. Normally you worry about them at night. Because if they’re out at night, they don’t want to get up early and practice.”
But the Clippers had the Warriors’ attention after their historic 31-point comeback in Game 2 of this series. They could do it again if the Warriors got complacent. And with next round’s likely opponent, the Houston Rockets, having taken a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Utah Jazz, the Warriors could ill afford to let LA ﬁnd any life.
“We have our eyes on the other teams playing,” guard Klay Thompson said after the Warriors’ 113-105 win over the Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
“We see Houston being up 3-0 with a chance to close it out. We didn’t want to extend this series any longer because we know how grueling the playoffs can be. We already let one slip away, so tonight we came in with that mindset to put our foot on the throttle and not let go, because we let go in Game 2 and we won’t do that again the rest of the playoffs. I really believe that.”