Warriors Value Off-court Relationships; How Steph Curry Drives Excellence

Editor's note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


The Warriors cap a two-game road trip Friday in Minnesota. After Wednesday's win in Memphis, they were 25-12 on the road this season, the best road record in the NBA.

Steve Kerr repeatedly has said that championship teams find ways to win on the road. The threat level feels different when you play in a hostile arena, and we've seen at times this season that the Warriors need a little extra something to motivate them.

After the game against the Timberwolves, three road games remain, with a back-to-back in New Orleans and Memphis closing the regular season.

Game On!

@BonzoMadrid #askkerith Hi Kerith! I've always wondered, are any of the Warriors real friends with each other? I mean do any of them hang-out/socialize beyond simply being teammates?

Yes, they are friends! DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green hang out at each other's houses. Some guys vacation with each other. The young group of players BBQ in the summer or play video games. On the plane, card games are lively. Being on a team creates real bonds.

When Zaza Pachulia got his championship ring at Oracle this week, I asked him about his friendship with Klay Thompson. He said getting to know teammates on a deep level is one of his favorite parts of being the NBA. Zaza explained these friendships become deeper than basketball.

@masoisa #AskKerith I think the warriors only care about finishing ahead of Houston. Thoughts?

The Warriors care about winning a third consecutive championship and finishing the regular season with the No. 1 seed to give them home-court advantage. What other teams are doing is inconsequential.

@GSDOUBLEU Is there more pressure for the Warriors to finish off the remaining home games this season on a good note, being that it is the last season at Oracle, and that may be partly to blame for the poor play at home this season (as opposed to previous seasons)?

If there's pressure, they're putting it on themselves to honor what Oakland and Oracle Arena has meant to the franchise. Steve Kerr said before the season began that, at a team dinner, they talked about making the most of home games.

During these years of success, the Warriors have built a reputation for domination at home, and the crowd lived up to its "Roaracle" nickname.

At times this season, there have been let-down games at home. The Christmas Day loss to the Lakers. The 33-point loss to the Celtics. The loss to the Suns, who were a 15-win team at the time. The 35-point loss to the Mavericks. I know fans carry these games in their minds and wonder, what's wrong?

I don't think pressure impacted these home losses, it's just dips in energy. It's not being excited for the opponent. And sometimes the Warriors are short-handed, either because of injuries or rest nights.

But energy is the biggest thing, and Draymond put it plainly after the Mavs game: "We just got punched. ... Sometimes you have games where playing against that team isn't going to get you up. You got to find the energy somewhere else. We didn't."

The next question comes in picture form, from Instagram:

Yes, they are in no-distraction game mode. Games are their workplace. They have a hundred people calling their names while they're out there to warm up, and the way you warm up dictates the way you play. They're steadfast in their routines. They want to be locked in.

Sorry your son didn't get what he was hoping for, but I promise the players are great with kids. They go out of their way to do nice things at the appropriate times. The demands on their time and attention are great, so players have learned how to tune things out. Every kid wants a selfie. Every kid wants an autograph. If they stop for one kid, 10 more rush over. There has to be a limit.

This feels like a good time to gently remind fans: The only thing a ticket to a game guarantees you is a seat.

@FernanAmber #AskKerith I was wondering, How did Kevin Durant make such perfect shots in a free throw? 

KD practices free throws often. When he practices, he sometimes shoots on one foot, then the other. Sometimes he'll do a 360 on the line before shooting. He has mastered his body and focus!

@Dugstreet #askKerith who was your favorite player on another team that you enjoyed talking to?

I loved talking to Carmelo Anthony when I worked in NYC and he was with the Knicks. He's good-humored, and he has a lot to say about the game. Sometimes he'd get clunky questions, but he'd answer them kindly.

I also liked his style. Please take a moment to Google "Carmelo Anthony hats." The fur one was my favorite. You'll know it when you see it.

@MuranakaRyota @KerithBurke is Stephen Curry worthy candidate for NBA 2018-2019 MVP award conversation? #askKerith

Steph Curry plays well, with clutch moments, but this is not likely an MVP season. MVP probably will go to James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Paul George.

Via Instagram, @jjflorescrose: How much of Steph's character is contagious to the other players? He just looks like a great guy and a goofy individual to be around. He is the lynchpin in my eyes.

Linchpin is a great word. So is "engine," which Shaun Livingston recently called Steph. Everything runs through him. Steph's gravity is so great as a player that he must be covered at all times, starting at half court. Steph is one of the greatest shooters of all time.

He's also one of the all-time great people. Steve Kerr jokes Steph is "the short Tim Duncan." Only once in franchise history does a player like this come along, and it's Steph, and this is his moment.

On top of his talent, he's agreeable. He's accountable. He's funny. He cares. He devotes himself to the game and growing it. That includes off-the-court work in the community. Having a guy like Steph in the locker room means he's the example for how to be a professional. He's a harmonious guy, so his demeanor helps keeps the locker room chill. He is indeed great to be around, for teammates, coaches, media and fans.

@rj1975 What aspects of your job changes the most when the NBA playoffs arrives? #AskKerith

Playoffs are the busiest time of year because NBC Sports Bay Area ramps up its coverage with extra shows, stories and other ways to connect with fans. It's exciting!

I do a lot more talking during the playoffs. That might be a strange way to put it, but it's covering the top storylines in say, five different ways, because I speak to different audiences at different times. Playoffs also are the time that radio stations or podcasters from around the country are looking for guests. I get 10 times the emails and DMs during the playoffs. Everyone is curious about the champs and whether they can three-peat. It's fun to talk about the Warriors so deeply.

High Five

This week's high five goes out to spring break. Vacation time at school means some family is around to travel with the players, and it's a reminder how challenging the NBA life can be. Family time is important.

Draymond Green's son, DJ, was on this road trip. He's his dad's shadow, and he likes to give people a peace sign. It was cute to hear Draymond practice vocabulary with DJ. He likes the word "airplane."

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Warriors coverage all season.

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