Playoffs 2017: West Semifinals -- Warriors (1) vs. Jazz (5)

Golden State Warriors taking better care of ball during offensive possessions

Since interim coach Mike Brown took over, Warriors have three-game streak of fewer than 10 turnovers

OAKLAND – Mike Brown trash talking Steve Kerr. That’s what it’s come to.

The interim Golden State Warriors coach taunting the ailing but actual coach.

Jabbing a finger in Kerr’s chest. Calling him out.

Golden State was coming off another impressive offensive showing the night before to claim a 1-0 lead over the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, the streak of taking care of the ball had stretched to three consecutive games of 10 turnovers or less, so bring it. Brown looked straight ahead into the bank of cameras at the media scrum that fanned out in a semi-circle after practice Wednesday.

He stared hard.

“Steve,” Brown began, “I hope you’re watching this.”

Just warming up.

“We had, I think, a total of 24 turnovers in the last three games. That’s an area I’m doing a lot better than you. I’ve gotten the point across to our guys a lot better.”

Brown finally broke character, in time to save his job but not before the point had been made at the expense of Kerr, for humor, and two opponents, for real: This kind of thing does not happen to the Warriors. And yet now it has, at the most important time of the year – the playoffs – and particularly welcome in what could have been an uncertain time of losing Kerr while he deals with the sickness that caused him to miss the first half of last season and could cost him the rest of these playoffs, if not longer.

Seven turnovers against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 3 of the first round.

Ten turnovers in Game 4 to complete the sweep.

Seven turnovers against the Jazz in Game 1 of the second round on Tuesday night.

Life is so good even Warriors problems aren’t Warriors problems anymore. The team that averaged 14.4 turnovers per 100 possessions in the regular season, 20th in the league, is down to 11.2 through five postseason games – first heading into Wednesday’s action. It has tied the franchise playoff low of seven turnovers twice in the last three outings, and the 24 total in the same time came while playing twice on the road.

“It’s been phenomenal what our guys have done the last three games,” Brown said. “I say this a lot. I remember sitting in our coaches meetings and going on our coaches retreat and Steve just hammering at, ‘Hey, with the team that we have, if we win the possession game – and not just turnovers, but that includes free throws and offensive rebound for the other team – then it’s going to be tough for teams to outscore us because of the firepower that we have offensively.

“He hammered it home to us as coaches on the retreat, he hammered it home to the guys during training camp and he’s been consistent with that message the entire year. It’s good to see our guys taking heed to it, especially at this time of the year against very good playoff teams.”

Small sample size or not, the run has reached historic proportions for the Warriors, with the fewest turnovers ever in a three-game stretch of the playoffs for the franchise, and at 24 or less for the first time in the regular season or postseason for the first time since December 1986. (It’s not close to league records, though. Several teams have had 24 or fewer in the playoffs, as recently as the Charlotte Hornets at 22 in 2016.)

“That’s something that we’ve been trying to focus on,” forward Draymond Green said after practice in preparation of Game 2 against the Jazz on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena (10:30 ET, ESPN). “Obviously in the playoffs every possession matters, especially against a team like Utah where there aren’t as many possessions. You have to really value the ones that you get and I think we did a great job of and we’ve got to continue to do that throughout the series now. To say we’re going to have seven turnovers every game, I don’t know if that’s possible. But we want to stay as close to that as possible as opposed to letting the turnovers creep up.”

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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