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Steve Kerr is becoming more flexible with his rotations

The Warriors are much more comfortable changing their rotations depending on the matchups this playoffs.

NBA: Playoffs-New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In years past, Steve Kerr has been pretty stubborn about changing his rotations in the playoffs. In the 2015 Finals, it took him until he was down 2-1 to change his starting lineup, replacing Andrew Bogut with Andre Iguodala, and in the 2016 Finals, his insistence on playing the end of his bench was a critical factor in the Warriors’ defeat. In the 2017 playoffs, he didn’t change his starting lineup once.

But the 2018 season has posed different problems. Zaza Pachulia is no longer an effective starting center against most of the league, and injuries, especially to Stephen Curry, have completely altered Kerr’s normal rotations.

So far these playoffs, without Steph, Kerr has gone with interesting starting lineups that have so far worked perfectly. Against the slow but disciplined Spurs, Steve Kerr started JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala, going with a super big lineup for the first time to great success. He also clearly shortened his playoff rotation, holding out Zaza Pachulia, Jordan Bell, and Nick Young for almost all of the series.

Against the dynamic, quick Pelicans, the Warriors went small to matchup with Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic in the frontcourt. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were huge factors on both ends, and the Pelicans didn’t look like they have an answer to stop them. Kerr replaced JaVale McGee with Nick Young of all people, but surely Stephen Curry will replace him in Game 2. Going small with the Death Lineup for the rest of the series will stretch the Pelicans thin: they won’t have the depth nor defense to compete.

In both series, Kerr has used a shortened playoff rotation, a good development. The Warriors have a smaller margin of error than in years past, and need their best players on the court as much as possible. When Curry is added to the rotation, the Warriors should have the perfect amount of depth for a championship run.

I appreciate Kerr becoming flexible with his lineup choices: his rigidity in previous seasons was at times costly. It’s a sign of growth for Kerr to realize that winning doesn’t have to come one way: a great team can adapt and beat a variety of good teams in different ways. So far, he’s been terrific this playoffs.

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