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Steve Kerr on Dubs’ defensive improvements when Kevin Durant has a big game

Steve Kerr, Kevin Durant, Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have made a living out of turning defense into offense since Steve Kerr took over the helm in 2014. A fourth go-around at the NBA Finals hasn’t changed their essence, combining laser-focused attention at the defensive end with devastating double-digit runs that have proved ultimately too much for teams to take.

Unlike in the regular season, these Warriors have managed to put together both sides of the ball effectively in the postseason. This change in energy has been more notable than ever in Kevin Durant, who mustered nine “soft rebounds” in Game 1, according to Draymond Green, but missed a crucial box-out of J.R. Smith in the winding seconds of regulation — a flaw that could have costed the Warriors the game and a lead in this series.

“The main difference is the our regular season defense was strange. It was decent, but not great for us and I think the last month of the season was missing, which is understandable…,” said coach Steve Kerr. “In Game 1, I could feel a difference in intensity and that was the main thing throughout and even if you just look at the numbers, playing against some of the best teams in the league, we had a really good defensive grading, field goal percentage defense.”

“It’s always been a key to our team, it’s what we value most. Sometimes it gets lost because the fireworks show that these guys put on sometimes. When we defend at a high level, that’s when we’re really tough to beat.”

Durant’s defense took a major step up in Games 2 and 3, which also showed in his offense, getting easier opportunities at the rim due to the team’s collective transition defense and his all-around involvement.

The reigning Finals MVP managed to put it all together in Game 3, posting 43 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and a steal in a Warriors’ 110-102 win on Wednesday.