The coach rarely goes more than a couple days without finding a gripe, and some of the players are matching him grumble for grumble.
The team is three games behind their record pace of last season but one game ahead of that which they set during their championship run two years ago.
The Warriors are having a fantastic season, yet there is little indication of satisfaction – unless they’re reliving the exploits of teammates.
These Warriors light up brightest when spreading love over each other, when marveling over the work of the man next to them. From MVP winners Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant to those on the far end of the bench, from the joyous reactions to Klay Thompson’s 60-point night to the dances that follow an Ian Clark crossover, the quickest way to a smile is when they are pointing fingers in praise.
“We get excited,” Kevin Durant said, “when we see our bench play well.”
No, they get ecstatic. They break into rapturous jogging, as Curry did when fellow All-Star Thompson was scorching the nets for 60. They start dancing, as Durant did when Clark, a backup guard, executed a crossover move that twisted Portland’s Noah Vonleh into a pretzel.
They even replayed the Clark-Vonleh video in the locker room, so everyone, including Clark, could fully enjoy the moment.
“Somebody just showed me in the locker room, and I saw Kevin on the ground, swimming,” Clark said, grinning. “It’s always fun. We enjoy each other while we’re on the court. We like to have fun and I think that’s why we play so well together.”
One of coach Steve Kerr’s four abiding tenets is “joy.” The other three – mindfulness, compassion and competition – can be difficult to interpret with the naked eye. Shared joy, however, is unmistakable.
“I’m sure when Ian looked back to the bench, he saw me on the ground and knew he had made a great move,” Durant said.
“But that’s the type of team we have. We have fun over there and we support each other.”
There was concern in some quarters, mostly outside the team, that the acquisition of Durant might upset the oft-publicized esprit de corps that seemed to lift the Warriors in previous seasons. Adding a superstar to a team with three All-Stars surely could alter the temperature in the room and even lead to envy.
There has been no such sign. The Warriors are pointing fingers, but always while grinning or winking.
The Warriors are 24-4, and they’re sharing the ball at a historic rate, leading the NBA in assists and in secondary assists, also known as hockey assists. Moreover, they’re swapping compliments as often as they share lotion in the locker room.
“When he shoots the ball,” Durant said of Curry, “I think every shot is going in. And I don’t say that about a lot of people. But there’s still a wow factor when I’m playing with him and Klay. It definitely makes my job easier.”
As the clock ticked to zeroes at the end of the third quarter of a 135-90 win over Portland on Saturday, Curry was the recipient of a creative pass from Durant. Both players are sprinting in transition when Durant crosses midcourt and zips a bounce pass to Curry who launches a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Durant was the team’s hottest shooter, with 34 points. He could have taken the shot. He chose, happily to pass it to the guy who has won the past two MVP awards.
"There have been moments throughout the season where I wouldn't say you're surprised, but it's kind of just 'Wow' moments where you appreciate the talent on this squad all the way through," Curry said.
"That's an amazing pass when he's obviously had it going from all over the floor and he recognized he had two people on him, found me and I was able to knock it down just in time."
This is why you have a ninth-year journeyman like center JaVale McGee tweeting, as he did Sunday, that he has “never had this much fun” at any time since he was drafted in 2009.
This is how you have Durant, noting how proficient his teammates have been in throwing lobs to McGee – and how they bond over his ability to slam them through the hoop – bemoaning his lack of such passes.
“I’ve got to join the party,” Durant said. “I’ve got to be better.”
He was grinning. Of course he was, as it’s trait common to everybody on this team. They may need such communal joy to carry them well throughout this season and, above all, once they get into the playoffs.