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Former Celtics assistant Ron Adams a stabilizing force for Warriors

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was back in the starting lineup for Game 1, but didn’t finish the game because of a persistent injury.Ben Margot/Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Ron Adams sat on the Warriors bench at Oracle Arena and held court during the media availability Wednesday. He is a sage, a voice of reason, the grizzled veteran on Steve Kerr’s coaching staff.

Yet, just a year ago, the 67-year-old Adams, a 23-year NBA coaching veteran, was pondering his next move, considering an offer from Kerr to join his freshly minted staff. But that meant he had to leave Brad Stevens and the Celtics after just one season.

Boston was a franchise in transition when Adams joined, having just traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce while reshaping the roster with manageable salaries and expendable parts. Stevens and his staff turned a 25-win team in 2013-14 into a 40-win club that reached the playoffs. That first Celtics team included players such as Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jerryd Bayless, Keith Bogans, Courtney Lee, and MarShon Brooks, players who may have preferred to avoid the rebuilding plan.

Adams acknowledged that lone season in Boston was hard on the coaching staff.


“I was not surprised [at the playoff berth] in this sense: Brad is a really good coach that’s highly organized and we had a lot of loose ends going into that first season,” Adams said. “We had a brand new coach from the college game, which is tough. But we lacked a homogenous roster. We were a transient roster with some difficult personalities I think to coach. We survived the first year. The group became more homogenous with the moves they made during the season.”

Such is the reality of veteran, valued assistant coaches. Adams was called on by Kerr to do some of the same things he did for Stevens, offer advice and stability. It’s a move he said he does not regret, but it was hardly simple.


“It was difficult leaving Boston,” he said. “I love the staff there and the people around the organization. Danny [Ainge] was tremendous to me. But opportunities crop up. I’m older. I’m walking down to the barn. This is a team that had potential to do something in the playoffs while Boston was building towards that. But it took a quantum leap up this year. That was my thinking, but that was a mixed bag of feeling that I had in moving.”

What Adams walked into was a franchise primed for success. The Warriors won 51 games the previous season under Mark Jackson and returned all of their key parts. Kerr was considered a bright basketball mind and prepared to instill some fresh concepts to uplift a talented club.

Adams just provided the stabilization.

“It’s really been a fascinating year,” Adams said of Golden State’s 67-win season. “Steve is really a quick learner and more than anything else adapted to the team. It’s a very cohesive team and a good locker room. So building on that, whatever technical things we did offensively or defensively, I think Steve did a really good job of just building from that base. We’re an unusual team. We’re more of a fraternity than ‘team.’ ”

Admittedly, Adams has been around the league for so long — Golden State is his eighth stop and seventh team — that he already knew all of the incoming coaches.

“Our job was simply to try to grow the team, the team had grown to the point and our job was to try to grow it to a championship level,” he said.


“And so far so good. But that’s what the makes the league fickle. You replace a good friend [Mark Jackson] who was on the last staff.”

Back in action

While injuries played a significant part in the buildup for Game 1 with Kyrie Irving suffering from knee and foot issues and Klay Thompson recovering from a concussion suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, both were in their respective starting lineups.

However, Irving did not complete the game. He limped into the locker room during the overtime session and didn’t return.

Meanwhile, reserve forward Marreese Speights, who missed the entire Houston series with a calf injury, was cleared for Game 1.

“He’s scrimmaged well the last few days,” Kerr said of Speights. “He looks ready to go, and we’ll have to figure out what we’re going to do rotation-wise. It will sort of manifest itself as we go, based on how we’re playing. You know, either we get offense or defense or what the matchups look like.”

Silver speaks

Commissioner Adam Silver said before Game 1 that matters such as intentionally fouling players who are poor free throw shooters and the current conference-affiliated playoff seedings are likely to remain unchanged.

Silver mentioned that if conference affiliation was not used this year, the Celtics would have been the 16th seed and played the Warriors in the first round, creating a potential travel nightmare with a cross-country first-round series.


Silver did, however, say he wanted to continue to work on retooling the draft lottery system and the rule that mandates a division winner receive at least a top-four seed in the playoffs.

In this year’s playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers benefited from the rule, meaning the Clippers and Spurs were forced to play in the first round in one of the more competitive first-round series in recent memory.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.