This season’s defining image of Warriors head coach Steve Kerr might be him sitting calmly on the bench: legs crossed, pensive, appearing not at all agitated even if his team is struggling. He occasionally spoke to assistant coach Mike Brown. Kerr often didn’t call timeout.

That offers a striking contrast to last year, when Kerr responded to a late-season, 20-point loss at Indiana by roasting his players to the media, saying he was “embarrassed” by their “pathetic effort.”

This change in approach was no accident.

As the Warriors chase a slice of NBA history — trying to become the first team in 53 years to reach five consecutive Finals, and the first since 2002 to win three straight titles — Kerr’s demeanor speaks to the cumulative toll of the past five years. He picked his spots in this regular season, partly so his players will listen in the playoffs.

“For certain games, certain stretches, it’s important for me to figure out, ‘Do I accept this for now or do I challenge them?’” he said. “I think you have to pace your team accordingly — to understand when to give them space without giving them an excuse, and when to push their buttons a little bit. … I’ve been much more lenient this year, trying to guide us through the rocky road.”

And, yes, the road sometimes was rocky. Draymond Green criticized Kevin Durant. The Warriors sagged defensively, especially as they integrated DeMarcus Cousins into the lineup. Green, Durant and Cousins routinely feuded with referees. A television camera caught Kerr saying he was “so f—ing tired” of Green feuding with referees.