In the midst of the most unique and unprecedented season, the Warriors, and all other NBA teams alike, are playing under a different kind of weight than ever before.
The lack of physical connection to other humans lends to different emotional baggage, while the endless COVID-19 protocols lead to a new kind of exhaustion.
For Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the way to try and remedy that -- at least for the past few weeks -- has been to stop practices and shootarounds.
"This season has been extremely draining, and it just felt like the right thing to do the last few days," Kerr said before the Warriors take on the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
"Just say don’t come in, we’ll meet at the game, come on in and let's bring our energy to the game. Conserve it, and then save it for the game. And so far it’s been really a good change. The guys have seemed to respond well. They seem to have a pep in their step, so we’ll see how long we do it."
The Warriors first cut back their practices during their five-game east coast road trip that featured games in five different states and multiple 3 a.m. arrival times. So, it was about preserving their energy and maximizing their downtime.
Kerr compares this past week of no practices and shootarounds to something iconic MLB manager Joe Madden did when he managed the Chicago Cubs. Once a year, Madden would have what he called American Legion week -- a nod to the youth baseball program that has teams play games back to back to back, giving teams barely any time to have batting practices.
So Madden would have his players arrive about 30 minutes ahead of the first pitch to warm up, and then go right into playing.
"It’s documented that those weeks were consistently some of the cubs best hitting weeks of the season," Kerr said.
The past week has been the best stretch of the season for the Warriors, going 7-3 in their last 10 games, including a win over the Philadelphia 76ers and two over the Denver Nuggets.
Because of how his team has been playing recently, Kerr saw no reason to rush back into a more busy schedule. That doesn't mean he won't integrate more practice time during the final 11 games of the regular season.
"There is definitely something to recharging and refreshing, and at the same time, if you do that all year you’re in big trouble," Kerr said. "These guys need the work, they need the practice, the got to hone their skills. So it’s really more about picking opportune times during the season when you sense that the group is tired."