Less than half an hour before the scheduled tip-off for their NBA Finals rematch against the Boston Celtics, the Golden State Warriors switched things up rather dramatically. The Dubs are going for a brand new starting lineup, and they’re going small, with guard Jordan Poole replacing center Kevon Looney in the lineup.
The first pic.twitter.com/WHn34gTJld— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 20, 2023
At the moment there’s no indication that anything is wrong with Looney, but there’s always the possibility that he was a late scratch for health reasons.
Presuming Looney is healthy and will come off the bench, it’s a slightly odd move. The Warriors struggles on the road this year have come almost entirely from their inability to play defense away from Chase Center, and Looney is one of the team’s top defensive options, while Poole is one of the worst. But with Boston sporting a two-center starting lineup of Al Horford and Robert Williams III, Steve Kerr and his staff might be trying to go small to run the opposing bigs off the court.
But it’s not that odd, because they’ve done it before, and it worked. With the Warriors trailing the Celtics 2-1 in the NBA Finals a year ago, Kerr removed Looney from the starting lineup, replacing him with Otto Porter Jr. The Warriors won the next three games en route to fourth championship in eight years. So it seems that the Warriors are following that winning blueprint.
This is the first time that Looney has come off the bench since those three Finals games. He’s started all 44 of the Warriors games this year.