OAKLAND -- As a member of the NBA's most lionized team, one studded with All-Stars, that made four consecutive trips to The Finals, David Fizdale knows exactly what the Warriors are up against.
The veteran coach, currently unemployed, spent Friday observing the Warriors practice ahead of Game 1 of their first-round series against San Antonio on Saturday.
Recalling his time as an assistant with the Miami Heat, which behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, Fizdale issued both a warning and a note of optimism.
"You play so many extra games," he said. "You get so banged up over the course of time. You're around each other so much that you start getting sick of each other."
Fizdale also pointed out how Year 4 comes with challenges unique to previous seasons. The Heat lost in Year 1 and won back-to-back titles in Years 2 and 3 before reaching The Finals and fading, losing to the Spurs in five games.
"I know our tendency was ‘Do we have to do shootaround? We know this stuff,' " he said of the 2013-14 Miami team. "They wanted to skip steps throughout. And as a coach, you have to say, ‘Nah, we're going to do those defensive drills. We're not going to stay on it long, but we're going to stay with our habits.'
"And that's always the battle when you get a team like this, a legacy team. It's just keeping them understanding that you can't skip steps."
The Warriors generally have stayed true to the routines of the past under Steve Kerr. He canceled one home shootaround, in January, saying he was "just mixing it up to keep things fresh."
Fizdale then pointed out an important difference between the experiences of those Heat teams and this Warriors team.
"The one factor for them that I think is different from our team is KD," he said, referring to Kevin Durant, who joined the Warriors before last season. "KD is only on a one-year run, and his edge is a little different.
"His body hasn't necessarily gone through what all those other guys have, even though he went deep (in his final season in Oklahoma City), it's different. The emotional drain of doing three Finals, going through all those games, wears on you. It's just always being (wound up).
"He's only had to go through one of those, recently, and I think he's going to be the difference. If they're going to get over the hump, obviously they're going to need to get Steph (Curry) and the rest of the team healthy, but (Durant's) edge...shows you that he still has a real hunger to win more."