OAKLAND - Four days ago, after eliminating the Portland Trailblazers in the Western Conference, the battered Golden State Warriors earned the right to rest.
The achievement comes with a caveat for a team with seven days full days until the NBA Finals: How to balance getting the necessary rest while staying sharp.
"We all kind of have an understanding of how our body responds and what we need to do and how to also get off your feet," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said following practice Friday afternoon. "Knowing that the rest should work to our advantage once the Finals start."
The extended break came at an opportune time for the champs, who now have time to dedicate a full training staff to help heal injuries for DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, and Andre Iguodala. As the Warriors wait for a winner to emerge from the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, they have taken a cautionary approach towards preparation.
After taking two days off, Golden State resumed practice Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, the Warriors went through a full scrimmage, which included Cousins, who is rehabbing from a torn right quad. Following Saturday's practice, the team will take Sunday off and resume workouts Monday morning with more scrimmages on the horizon.
"Throughout the scrimmage, you don't have to go 100 percent playoff intensity," Curry said. But you can still focus on the things that help you on win games defensively like rotations and switches. And then offensively, certain play calls we know we're going to run, even though, in our scrimmages, everyone knows what the plays are."
Golden State has been in this position before. Two years ago, after sweeping the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Finals, Golden State had nine days to prepare for the NBA Finals matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who they beat in five games. Over the last five years, Golden State has had at least a week break three times.
"We kind of understand how mentally you want to refresh," Curry said. "I know the playoffs are demanding. So if you have time to reset a little bit, take advantage of it."
History suggests that rest doesn't nessessarily mean success in the NBA Finals. Teams with at least a one-week rest before Game 1 of the NBA Finals are 14-11 in the series all-time.
"There's no easy answer to it all but you have to scrimmage," Kerr told NBC Sports Bay Area. you have to play and that's scary because guys could get hurt."
More than 30 years ago, after dispatching Kerr's Suns in the 1989 Western Conference Finals, Lakers coach Pat Riley, decided to hold a three-day mini camp in a remote area near Santa Babara, Calif to keep his team in peak condition. During the two-a-day sessions, Lakers guard Byron Scott pulled his hamstring. Days after the camp, star guard Magic Johnson pulled his hamstring in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons, missing the rest of the series as Detroit swept the series.
"Pat Riley is one of the great coaches of all time. How do you handle it? I don't know," Kerr said. "You got to strike a balance, you got to try and keep their conditioning and keep their lungs, but you can't risk injury."
With seven days until their next professional game, the Warriors will continue to tow the line between resting and keeping their game up to par for their biggest series of the season.
"You just got to have fun and compete with it, obviously," Curry said. "You want to stay safe and really it's just to make sure the lungs still work for the Finals."