Whatever the situation and the comfort level, on Sunday the Warriors opened the game way out of sorts, couldn't make shots, were late on some defensive rotations and before the crowd had really settled in, the Warriors were down by 10, then 15, then at one point in the second quarter the Spurs' lead was 44-19.
Kerr last coached during Game 2 of Golden State's first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after scoring against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 14, 2017.
"It's very hard to react from a game like this", he said with considerably genuine sadness after Golden State's effervescent 113-111 victory in Game 1. LaMarcus Aldridge delivered another clutch playoff performance with 28 points and eight boards.
Patty Mills retrieved the ball and was fouled with five-tenths of a second left. Two free throws to Jonathon Simmons made it 106-103 before a Curry three followed by a Draymond Green three-point play put Golden State back in front 109-106. In the minutes leading up to tipoff, a bettor at Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology placed a $262,000 money-line wager on the heavily favored Warriors to win $37,000, according to vice president of risk Jason Simbal.
Leonard had 26 points and eight rebounds.
"Any one of the teams could have won the game down the stretch", acknowledged Spurs head coach Greg Popovich, who appeared quite tense until the game's time clock expired.
San Antonio steadied the ship somewhat and a buzzer-beating putback by Kyle Anderson saw Gregg Popovich's side lead 90-81 with a quarter to go.
If Kawhi Leonard's ankle has announced its retirement from any further competitive behaviors, these words from Spurs elder Manu Ginobili may well remembered as be the Western Conference's epitaph for a third consecutive year.
And then Kawhi Leonard was taken out by Zaza Pachulia, and the entire tenor of the game changed.
This was the first game Kerr attended since taking an indefinite leave of absence in the middle of the first round because of complications from back surgery nearly two years ago.
"He's gone through hell", Popovich said pregame.
"I haven't talked to anybody (yet)", Popovich said. We weren't willing to take ugly shots. They were down by 20 at halftime, down by 25 early in the third. Andre Iguodala was limited by a sore left knee. And everything that happens begins and ends with him, not with our people or our country. "It's got to do with the way one individual conducts himself and that's embarrassing", the coach said.