If more changes are coming to the Golden State Warriors’ starting lineup or rotation, don’t expect a straight answer from coach Steve Kerr.
“Well, as I established before Game 4, I will lie, so ... ,” Kerr said Saturday.
Before Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, Kerr said he would not change his lineup. He then unveiled a small starting five that sparked Golden State to a 103-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to even the best-of-seven series 2-2.
Kerr’s adjustment – benching center Andrew Bogut and starting forward Andre Iguodala in his place – allowed the Warriors to run more and threw off the Cavaliers. Cleveland looked fatigued early trying to keep up with Golden State.
Kerr wouldn’t say if he plans to stick with the starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Iguodala for Game 5 Sunday at Oracle Arena. The gamesmanship is designed to keep Cleveland coach David Blatt guessing.
“Yeah, unfortunately, the dynamics are pretty tricky,” Kerr said. “So if I say anything, I’m guessing it might get back to David. So I’ll just say that I’ve established my penchant for lying. So however I answer right now, you shouldn’t believe me anyway.”
The Warriors succeeded with small ball. But that doesn’t mean the Cavaliers will panic and bench one of their big men, center Timofey Mozgov or power forward Tristan Thompson. One reason the Cavaliers have won twice is a size advantage that allowed them to grab critical rebounds.
But, as you might suspect, Blatt wasn’t revealing if or how he might change things up for Game 5.
“If you look at the one game, it makes you think, ‘OK, we’ve got to change this, that and the other thing,’” Blatt said. “If you look at the four games, in three out of four of those games we were pretty good doing the things that we did. So I think you’ll see a combination of both of those possibilities.
“We’ve got to continue to do certain things really well. What we need to change, we will.”
Though Thursday’s game ended up lopsided, Cleveland took a 7-0 lead and made it close in the third quarter before faltering in the fourth.
Blatt didn’t have to lie about his plans; he simply said he wasn’t divulging anything to the media.
“I’m not going to sit here and give away too, too much,” Blatt said. “There are things, as I said, in that game that we could have done a lot better and that Golden State did do a lot better. We got to lock in on those things.”
One of those things is playing with more intensity. The Warriors lacked that in their losses but had plenty in Game 4.
“It’s just a mindset,” Thompson said. “If we come out aggressive but make the simple play, we’re hard to stop. That’s not just one guy being aggressive; that’s everybody.”
Likewise, Blatt wants more fire from his team.
“We’ve got to come with greater energy and greater purpose and a higher sense of urgency than we had in the last (game),” Blatt said. “We’ve had a couple of days here to recover. I believe that’s going to be helpful. This is a tough series for both teams. A lot of things happening. It’s the best of three to win the NBA championship, the world championship.”
And the Cavaliers won’t be caught off guard by the lineup Kerr may or may not use in Game 5.
“It’s definitely a different change for us,” Cleveland’s LeBron James said. “But I think we’ll be much more prepared for it (Sunday) night if they go with the same lineup.”
Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones.