Members of the Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson, Zaza Pachulia, David West and head coach Steve Kerr sat down for international media ahead of the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule. Topics covered included facing the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day, Steph Curry’s injury, the threat posed by the Houston Rockets and Kevin Durant’s performances so far this season. Below is a selection of the best questions and answers.
Q. I wonder what it’s like playing as a player on Christmas Day. Do you get to see your families, and how do you go about preparing for that?
KLAY THOMPSON: It’s a lot of fun. It’s an honor to play on Christmas Day because the NBA, if they schedule you, it means you’re doing something right.
There are so many families and kids watching around the country. I remember watching as a kid, and to be a part of it as an adult is a much better experience. It’s just so fun doing what you love on a beautiful holiday.
Q. How hard is it to play without Steph Curry on the floor now that he’s injured?
KLAY THOMPSON: Well, we obviously miss Steph incredibly. He’s one of the best players in the world, so not to have him out there is unfortunate. But while he’s not here, we do not make excuses for his absence. We still try to do what we do without him, and that’s just play hard, play together, and win as many games as possible. We’ve been successful without him so far because of our depth, and we don’t make excuses when some of our best players are injured. We still have fun, go out there and try.
Q. You and the Rockets have really been neck-andneck for the top seed so far this season, and their success has been because of their backcourt with James Harden and Chris Paul. Talk about how difficult it is to guard both of them individually and maybe pick which is the easier assignment among the two.
KLAY THOMPSON: Well, the Rockets are playing phenomenal this year. I mean, they’re in first place right now, so it’s unfamiliar for us to be behind them, but it pushes us to get even better. And Chris Paul and James Harden, I mean, it’s one of the best if not the best backcourt in the game right now just because they’re such great playmakers. They both can shoot the ball. They don’t really have any weaknesses. It’s always a fun matchup when me and Steph get to go against them because we can measure ourselves as players against the best. They beat us the first time [on opening night], and we’re looking forward to that game in a few weeks because we owe them some revenge.
Q. My question is about the Rockets. What do you think is the most dangerous thing about them? You know they have Chris Paul and they are playing good.
ZAZA PACHULIA: Yes, they are playing good. I think they got better this year with the additions they made this summer. They put more defensive-minded guys in the roster, so that’s definitely helping them. But it’s a long season. We can’t be worried about others. We’ve got to be worried about whatever is in our control, whatever is in our hands. I feel pretty confident as far as when we have everybody healthy and back playing at a high level, we can beat anybody. At the same time, their team definitely got better.
They’ve been playing amazing right now, but again, it’s a long season. The playoffs are ahead of us. We might face them; we might not. We don’t know yet.
Q. You guys are aiming to make your fourth straight Finals, but the team is pretty banged up right now. What’s been the biggest problem you’ve been facing just trying to win games and trying to be consistent and maintaining good habits?
STEVE KERR: Well, I think we’ve done a good job. We’re winning games and dealing with the injuries, and that’s what you have to do when you’ve been to The Finals a few years in a row. It’s just going to be more difficult. I felt that as a player in Chicago way back in the ’90s. Year three was much more difficult than year one, and that’s what we’re facing now, just the wear and tear of the journey.
As long as we can win games while guys are out, we’re confident that they’re going to actually be healthy and will be ready to go for the playoffs. This is all sort of expected in many ways, and we’re dealing with it the best we can.
Q. I wanted to ask you, are you worried about the ejections of Kevin Durant? He’s already had three, that’s the most in his entire career.
STEVE KERR: Yeah, I’m not worried about it. I think Kevin went through a couple of weeks where he was pretty frustrated. Things weren’t going that well for him, and he was getting angry. I had the same problem. I got a couple technicals during that time, and I was getting frustrated. I think since that time, we’ve done a much better job as a team of not complaining to the officials and just focusing on the game and playing and understanding that you’re going to get some bad calls. That’s just the way the game works. It’s a very difficult game to officiate. So Kevin has done a better job of handling all of that, and I’m not worried about it at all.
Q. Over the last season with the Warriors dominating in the West and Cleveland dominating in the East, and now with great teams like the Celtics and OKC, does this change in the way that the Spurs are not your biggest opponent anymore?
DAVID WEST: No, I think in terms of the West, I think San Antonio is always a mountain to climb because they’ve got such great pedigree and have been consistently good for a very long time. Houston has made some changes and they’re playing probably the best basketball in the league. So we know it’s going to be difficult. We know that teams have geared up and have changed some. Obviously, Boston has gotten better in the East; Cleveland is who they are. We’re going to have to get better, and that’s what we’ve been doing. We’re a little banged up right now in terms of health, but guys are going, guys are developing.
Guys who probably wouldn’t be playing as much right now are playing because of the injuries, but it’s going to help us in the long run. We went through a similar stretch like this last year when KD went down, and I thought we were better for it. I think we’re on that same trail in terms of our team just growing and getting better, figuring out what lineups work and who works well together, because ultimately we’re going to have to get through.
The Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors as part of a very special NBA Christmas Day. Catch all five NBA Christmas Day games from 5pm live on BT Sport and via NBA LEAGUE PASS at www.nba.tv
Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty / NBAE