Livingston breaks down the team's mindset entering the rubber match against the Cleveland Cavaliers, what it's like playing in Steve Kerr's absence and what fans need to know about Kevin Durant off the court. He also talks about his time with Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden in Oklahoma City, as well as his upcoming free agency.
Afterward, Beck and Brenner dive into their own finals preview.
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On Warriors' mentality ahead of rematch
We’re not the defending champions. The Cavaliers, they’re the champs. They earned the title last year, so this is a chance for us to come in as the hunters. … I think coming off of last year’s loss, I think that should be in the back of our minds, it should allow us to play with a chip on our shoulder. But as well, it’s still the game of basketball. … all the little things from our games that we’ve been doing throughout these playoffs, it should take it up another notch—take it up another level in the Finals.
On learning from blown 3-1 lead
It was humbling. The humility and the integrity that you have to have in order to walk out of there and say they were the better team. They won it. If we were the better team, we would’ve won the championship last year, and that didn’t happen. So to walk out of there and just try to hold our heads high of what we accomplished, that was the hardest thing ever to do because it’s tough to take pride in losing ... and that’s part of being a champion as well.
On this year vs. last year
You look at where we’re at now and where we were last year, I think we’re in a better position going into these finals. Having guys healthy, guys are jelling, guys are forming chemistry, and having somebody like KD, again, it changed the entire scope of the NBA, but obviously our organization and our team. And he’s also, what people don’t know, he’s a great teammate. … that goes a long way in our system, ... we play team basketball and he’s just bought into that system because that’s who he is as a person.
On KD behind the scenes
It starts before you even get on the court, just his interaction with guys. It’s real selfless. He’s a real humble guy—he’s a humble superstar in that sense. ... we do a lot of team bonding—we do a lot of team events—and I think that allows guys to get more comfortable with each other, to be able to communicate with each other. … Hold each other accountable—that’s hard to do. But we feel like we can do that. I feel like I can say something to Kevin and he’s gonna take it in stride and know that it’s for the best of the team, and he can do the same to me because we want to win and we’re able to hold each other accountable. That’s part of being a good teammate no matter if you’re the 15th man or if you’re the MVP.
On playing with KD, Russ and Harden in OKC
You could see the talent level was there. You could see how those guys prepared and how they were grooming those guys to be the players that they are today. So that was definitely a special time and it gave me a lot of perspective as well ... when [Durant] first came in, like 'okay, I know what type of person Kevin is; he’s gonna fit in great here.'
On entering NBA Finals without Kerr
He’s our leader; he allows the ship to run in the sense of his personality, his character, who he is as a person—it’s affected all of us in that sense. So him being out, it’s definitely a loss. But at the same time, he has been able to work behind the scenes. He works with Mike [Brown]. They work in tandem in providing what we need as a team. Providing our game plan, our strategy—you know, having us prepared—having us prepared for this round. And with Mike with his experience coaching in these types of pressure situations—he’s coached in the NBA Finals before—I mean, it helps, right? That experience always goes a long way.
… But make no mistake about it: He’s an extension of Steve Kerr and what the coaching staff and what Steve devises up for the game and at halftime. You know, Steve is still—I don’t wanna say ‘pulling the strings’—but he’s still very much a part of what we’re doing and how we’re playing, how we’re executing rotations as well. It’s just not at the forefront because of his condition.
On his upcoming free agency and Warriors cap space
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t aware of it, but at the end of the day, I stand on my ground. And that ground is: When you win, everybody looks good. When you win, everybody gets the praise, everybody gets taken care of however you want to split it up. So that’s my goal; that’s what we’re trying to accomplish: a championship. ... You can’t get ahead of yourself because things could happen and change in a minute’s notice—in a day’s notice.
On appreciating Warriors' run
I felt like a little kid after our Western Conference Finals. And I know it should’ve been maybe a little more business-like approach because we feel like we have unfinished business—we have more things we want to accomplish. But just living in the moment, right? Understanding what we’re doing is special, and these are special times right now.
… sometimes it just takes stepping outside the box, and that’s what I try to do so I can live in the moment and appreciate those moments. Watching guys go to their first NBA Finals … David West, Matt Barnes, the rookies and some of the young guys. It’s special, man. It’s special because guys don’t get this opportunity, right? Some guys play 10, 15 years never make it to the NBA Finals, let alone win one. And so for us to do it three straight times, I think I’m appreciating this moment more and more each time we go.