Kerr admits Warriors’ lack of grit, togetherness a ‘problem’

NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — Back-to-back dismal home performances by his team left Warriors coach Steve Kerr pondering what has gone wrong.

For Kerr, it was a fairly simple but frustrating and concerning answer.

“We have good chemistry, but we haven’t found that grit every good team needs, when you pull together and just play for the group,” Kerr told reporters Saturday night after the Warriors were handily defeated 132-122 by the Dallas Mavericks at Chase Center. “We’re not there yet, and that’s a problem.

“We’ve got good guys. Love everyone, but until this team really connects in a way that is solely dedicated to winning each and every game, then we’re going to be stuck in this place. We need to get there.”

That wasn’t much of an issue, if at all, when the Warriors were winning NBA championships. Those teams were extremely talented and defined by their grittiness, their ability to consistently make clutch plays, and defend with equal passion and success.

But something clearly is missing with this season’s squad, as evidenced in the back-to-back losses to Miami and Dallas. The Heat and Mavs — both missing two key players — pretty much had their way in their respective victories, while the Warriors were mostly out of sync, particularly on defense, in both losses.

Kerr was asked if there’s an issue with players having individual agendas, though he declined to say it in those terms.

“The irony is that things always work out best for each individual player when they just lose themselves in the game and the team and commit to the quest to the cause,” Kerr said. “All the great teams do that. We’re not there.

“We’re not competing through the tough parts of the game. There’s an intangible, there’s a feeling, there’s a vibe where you fight, where everybody’s energy is right. We don’t have that right now.”

Stephen Curry, who is trying to fight his way through his individual struggles, agreed.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s agendas or kind of emotions getting in the way,” the Warriors star said. “I think it’s when you’re not playing well, it’s like a human-nature default. I’ll be up here and say, ‘I need to play better, I need to shoot the ball better.’ Everybody could probably speak to something they could do better to help us win. That’s the situation we’re in.

“Until we start winning, there will be more nit-picking everything to try to figure out what the solution is. Until we find it, we’re going to be sitting right here in this situation.”

Whenever the Warriors needed a spark of passion and fury in the past, they got it in abundance from Draymond Green. But he has missed the past nine games while serving an indefinite NBA suspension, and there’s no timetable yet for his return.

While Green’s return definitely would be a boost, it might not be the complete fix the Warriors are seeking.

Chris Paul, who has played for six different NBA teams in his 18-year career, has gone through similar situations in the past, but he’s confident that the Warriors will pull themselves out of the tailspin.

“We just have to stay connected. It’s as simple as that,” the guard said. “We just want to make sure that we’re not up when it’s going good and down when it’s not going as well. That’s the thing we’re trying to find with our team is consistency. Just make sure the spirit is right. The really good teams in this league try to stay even-keel. Just realize if you get down by 10, it’s a long game, you’re going to figure it out.

“We’re going to figure it out. We’ve got a lot of selfless guys on the team, and we have a lot of guys with grit and all that. Now we just have to figure out how to put it together for 48 minutes consistently.”

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