Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers

Changing starters, adjusting in series pays off for Steve Kerr’s Warriors

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr's bold, but smart changes ended up spurring his team to a Game 4 victory.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s bold, but smart changes ended up spurring his team to a Game 4 victory.

Game 4 of the NBA Finals is just winding down and I think a big reason the Warriors were able to tie up the series at 2-2, was due to the game-to-game adjustments that head coach Steve Kerr made.

Admittedly, I was slightly wary when I saw that Golden State was switching up its starting lineup and going to a smaller starting five. Inserting Andre Iguadola for Andrew Bogut proved to be the right move for the Warriors. It appeared to be a total misjudgment when the Cavs started out the game on an enormous run, but things evened out as they tend to in a series or game between two excellent teams.

But to be honest, I’m still not certain I would have done the same thing. The result was good, but was the process correct? My argument for why the process may not have been correct, is that it seemed to be a snap reaction on the part of Warriors coach Steve Kerr. An overreaction to back-to-back losses. If the Warriors were up 2-1 headed into the game, wouldn’t Andrew Bogut still be taking the tip? Why make that change after two losses, when it helped you to 67 wins in the regular season?

It’s very easy for me to sit back on the couch and say that, especially because we did the same thing at Bard. During a tough stretch this season, we overreacted to a matchup we were worried about and started a smaller lineup than usual at home against Clarkson. We went away from the two-big lineup that had helped us to big wins over Hobart, Vassar and Union through that point in the season and ended up getting smashed on the boards and at the end of the game, on the scoreboard.

The changes that I did like from Kerr and the Warriors staff were how they mixed things up defensively. Right from the start they were varying ball screen defenses and even trapped the first one that LeBron James tried to come off of. Smartly, they did not stick with the aggressive trap for the entire game, because LeBron would have eventually adjusted and beaten them on it. Additionally, the Warriors were way more aggressive in forcing the ball out of LeBron’s hands on isolations and post ups. They sagged off role players like Matthew Dellavedova and JR Smith and made those lesser commodities beat them. And they didn’t tonight.

Sure, Timofey Mozgov had the night of his life. He did an excellent job exploiting his mismatch and bullying around the smaller Warriors’ centers. But we preach to our players, and I’m sure Kerr does that same with his, that one guy playing out of his mind doesn’t hurt you — especially if you’ve taken the best player in the world back down to an average level.

There were a million other factors that played a part in this game, including Dellavedova tiring out, Andre Iguadola taking advantage of his mismatch and LeBron smashing his head into a camera. But this win was a coaching coup for the Warriors thanks to their great adjustments, even the lineup change that I disagreed with.

So bravo Steve Kerr and staff. Can’t wait to see what you have for us in game five.


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This entry was posted on June 12, 2015 by in Coaching, NBA.