Warriors Face Game 7, a Situation Steve Kerr Is Familiar With


And sometimes you have to fail — as Kerr did with the Cavaliers in 1992 — to learn how to succeed. The Warriors’ core of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green was on the losing end of a Game 7 in the first round of the 2014 playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers, after which Mark Jackson was fired as the coach, paving the way for Kerr’s hiring.

Then came a championship, and now, another Game 7.

“Have another opportunity to get the job done,” Curry said late Saturday night after he contributed 31 points, including consecutive 3-pointers in the final minutes, to erase what remained of the Thunder’s 8-point fourth-quarter lead. With 14 seconds left, Curry raised his hands and gave the sellout crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena a seven-finger salute.

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Warriors Coach Steve Kerr with Coach Phil Jackson in 1997 as a member of Jackson’s fifth N.B.A. championship team with the Chicago Bulls.

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Michelle V. Agins/The New York TImes

“If we thought tonight was hard, Game 7 is going to be even tougher,” said Curry, who also had 10 rebounds and 9 assists. “We can’t expect just because we’re at home we can just show up and win.”

Given his family’s history in seventh games, Curry ought to consider hanging garlic bulbs from his locker to ward off evil spirits. A Toronto Raptors team coached by Lenny Wilkens took the Philadelphia 76ers to a Game 7 in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals but lost by a point when Vince Carter missed a last-second jump shot off an inbounds pass from Curry’s father, Dell.

Stephen Curry, who was 13 at the time, watched the game from home on T.V.

“I’m still mad at Lenny Wilkens for making him the takeout man on the last shot,” he said of his father’s role in the final play. “But it’s cool just being around the game and understanding the hype and the sense of urgency in a Game 7 situation.”

Dell Curry, who was at Saturday night’s game to watch his son, reflected later on what lies ahead Monday night. “There’s a little more pressure,” he said. “You can’t think about that. You have to treat it as another playoff game: No panic. Trust each other. Make big shots. Don’t get too high or too low.”

His son contributed a few more bullet points in his postgame news conference: “Be physical. Be smart. Execute our game plan.”

Curry could have been summarizing the play of his teammate Andre Iguodala in the final 2 minutes 6 seconds of Game 6. Iguodala recorded a layup, two steals and an assist in that span, prompting Kerr to proclaim him as “kind of the unsung hero.”

Iguodala, who was named the most valuable player of the N.B.A. finals last spring, is the Warriors’ philosopher king.

“We have a lot of believers on this team,” he said Saturday night. “We say the course and the process is the journey, and you’ve got to enjoy each moment and not look ahead, not look back.”

Last year, the Warriors dispatched the Houston Rockets in five games to advance to the finals. This seesaw series, however stomach-roiling, has given the Warriors a moment worth savoring.

“I’m excited to go back home for Game 7,” Green said, “because, man, to be in this situation, people would die for this.”

He added: “They’re going to come out and battle. We’re going to come out and battle.”

And Kerr shall lead them. After Saturday’s game, which included 11 lead changes, he ran into Rick Welts, the Warriors’ president and chief of operations, in a hallway.

“That was kind of fun,” Kerr told Welts.

Kerr used the same word again in his postgame news conference as he talked about Game 7s. Why not? As Jackson more or less told him 18 years ago: Embrace the moment, and the results will take care of themselves.

Correction: May 30, 2016

Because of an error by the N.B.A., an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of points scored by Stephen Curry in Game 6. Curry scored 31 points, not 29.

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