Steve Kerr returns to Warriors practice for 1st time in 3 weeks

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Instead, it was the calming voice of ailing coach Steve Kerr that helped steady the ship. That won't change under acting coach Mike Brown.

The Warriors played with more energy and precision to start the second half, then Leonard left the game in the third quarter after re-injuring his ankle, and the Warriors immediately went on an 18-0 explosion that changed everything.

Yet the series likely will be decided by defense and turnovers. It's definitely a nice way to win Game 1. He's eighth in the league in offensive rating (119.2), which ranks fifth among Warriors players.

And there went the Spurs' lead.

The Warriors might look fine without Kerr, but part of that is because Kerr has already figured out the ingredients to keep every player in line. Though he'll spend some time defending Leonard, Durant also will be assigned to others, such as Pau Gasol and David Lee.

Spurs:Patty Mills, a college star at nearby Saint Mary's, struggled in place of the injured Tony Parker - out for the remainder of the playoffs with a leg injury.

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The Spurs (61-21) earned the No. 2 overall seed.

The NBA Western Conference Finals continue with Game 2 this Tuesday, May 16, at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

The Warriors in the regular season lost two of three to San Antonio. The Warriors are the first team to reach the Western finals three consecutive seasons since the Spurs did it from 2012-14. The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2012-13 conference semifinals, with San Antonio winning in six games.

The Spurs amassed a 25-point lead on the road and then it ALL fell apart when Kawhi Leonard left the game less than 4 minutes into the third quarter after rolling his already injured left ankle TWICE. They'll try to pound the ball inside to shoot over the smaller Warriors. The Spurs had done yeoman's work in preventing the Warriors from getting multiple scoring chances, but this breakdown in corralling rebounds came at the most inopportune moment. They'll have to perform better than that.

Until Leonard's injury, the Warriors appeared nearly certain to drop their first game of this postseason. After averaging 26.8 points in November, Curry shot just 42.7 percent from the field in December, averaging just 20.9 points per game.

"It's always a boost-and I said this yesterday, he's our leader, he's the head coach and we're just trying to hold the ship down "til he gets back".

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