PORTLAND, Ore. — A timetable for the bench return of Steve Kerr remained unknown Saturday night after the Golden State Warriors recorded a come-from-behind playoff victory without their ailing coach.
The Warriors announced Saturday afternoon that Kerr would be forced to skip Game 3 of Golden State’s first-round series with the Trail Blazers due to illness, with lead assistant Mike Brown taking his place.
But specific details about Kerr’s condition were scarce on Saturday, with league sources attributing that to the fact that the specific cause of the illness is not yet known.
The Warriors, sources said, have yet to determine whether Kerr’s symptoms are related to the headaches, nausea and other complications he has endured for much of the past two seasons since a back surgery in July 2015 caused a well-chronicled fluid leak in his spine.
Sources told ESPN.com that Kerr felt well enough Saturday morning to address the team, though he did not attend the Warriors’ pregame shootaround.
But sources said he also needed to have his fluids replenished Saturday before staying behind at the team hotel while the Warriors — after falling behind by 17 points — rallied to a 119-113 triumph over the Blazers to seize a 3-0 series lead, despite the absence of injured All-Star forward Kevin Durant (calf) for the second straight game.
Brown, coaching his first playoff game since 2012 when he was head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, is scheduled to stand in for Kerr in speaking to media members covering the series on Sunday in advance of Monday night’s Game 4 in Portland.
Sources said Kerr had been feeling ill all week. Late in Wednesday night’s Game 2 victory over the Trail Blazers at home, Kerr appeared to give a glimpse of the discomfort he has been coping with by removing his suit jacket to finish out the game. Ties are not mandatory for NBA coaches, but sport coats or suit jackets are.
After scoring Golden State’s final nine points in Saturday’s win, Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry told ESPN’s J.A. Adande that he grabbed the game ball following the final buzzer to present to Kerr.
“Our coach is going through a lot right now, physically,” Curry told Adande. “He told us this morning this is a situation where we need to rally and go out and win a game for him. But we felt that the way the game had gone, we had to fight and do it for him … and the way that he said it was that we had to win one for the Gipper. So, shout out to Coach Kerr.”
Sources later told ESPN that Kerr, in his morning address to his players, actually told his players not to make the game about him or rally around his condition, but Curry was clearly moved after the win to pay tribute to his coach.
In subsequent comments at the postgame podium, Curry said: “He’s obviously going through a lot physically, and that’s first and foremost for him to take care of himself, make sure he’s on the road to recovery and feeling like himself.”
“We’ve got his back,” Curry continued. “We’ve had certain situations all year [and] previous years where players are down and you’ve got the ‘next man up’ philosophy. Same with Coach Kerr. He’s done a great job of implementing a philosophy and a strategy and an identity of how we play Warrior basketball. And even in his absence, we want to kind of live up to that.
“Coach Brown did a great job of stepping in — [and] the whole coaching staff — and that’ll have to continue until he’s back. But us as players, we have an opportunity to keep fighting, keep playing and keep pushing to our goal.”
Kerr was forced to sit out the first 43 games of the Warriors’ title defense in 2015-16 due to complications caused by the back surgery months earlier. But he made it through all 82 games this season, missing only one morning shootaround along the way until Saturday.