NBC Sports

Kerr says effectiveness will dictate Dubs' playoff rotations

NBC Sports
Steve Kerr talking to Warriors

After achieving their best stretch of the season despite injuries limiting the roster to eight rotation players, the Warriors enter the playoff phase in a healthier state, which could pose a challenge for coach Steve Kerr.

How does he maintain the rhythm and momentum generated by the diminished roster while also coordinating the slow influx of reinforcements?

Kerr’s reply: He does not.

“We now have options,” Kerr said. “But now that the playoffs are starting, there’s no difficulty at all. You just play whoever is going to help you win the game. If that means we only play eight (on Sunday), then we play eight.

“The regular season is different from the playoffs.”

For the Warriors, the playoffs begin with the regular-season finale on Sunday, when the Memphis Grizzlies invade Chase Center with the Western Conference No. 8 seed at stake.

The winner will travel to face the No. 7 seed, either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Portland Trail Blazers, with whomever emerges victorious earning the No. 7 playoff seed. The loser drops to the No. 9 seed, and will play host to the 10th-seed San Antonio Spurs.

The Warriors (38-33) have won five in a row and 14 of their last 19. They’ve done it with a supporting cast, led by Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Jordan Poole, augmenting the veteran brilliance of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.

They’ve done it without Eric Paschall, who returned Friday night after missing six weeks with a hip flexor strain. They’ve done it without Damion Lee, who could return next week. They’ve done it without Kelly Oubre Jr, who is out indefinitely with a sore shooting wrist. They’ve done it without Jordan Bell, who signed on Thursday and played 15 minutes on Friday. 

 

Even though Kerr will have a deeper bench on Sunday and even deeper if the Warriors stretch the postseason, flexibility will allow him a lower tolerance for ineffectiveness.

“I always am very conscious and aware, being a former player, that the regular season requires giving a lot of opportunity to people,” Kerr said. “You have to keep them ready and prepared in case of injury. You’ve got to see what you’ve got. You’re experimenting for much of the season with different combinations.

“When the playoffs start, that goes out the window. It’s time for everybody to just lock in and help win the game. So, for everybody on the bench, that means be ready to play. And if you don’t play, then shake it off and be ready to play (on Sunday).”

What, then, to expect? The starting lineup should stay the same, with Kent Bazemore and Kevon Looney joining Curry, Green and Wiggins.

Poole can expect to continue getting minutes spanning the first and second quarters, while Toscano-Anderson should get most of the “Iguodala minutes” as the reserve splitting time between the first and second unit – with a chance to finish. Mychal Mulder will be the floor-spacing shootist, whose minutes will be dictated by need.

The wild card, at least on Sunday, is Paschall. He’s a proven scorer as a small-ball center, and at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, there could be a need for his physical presence. He looked good in his return on Friday, scoring 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes.

RELATED: Poole, Dubs' bench gets confidence boost before play-in

“It’s great to have him, for depth purposes,” Kerr said. “We’ll see how the game goes, in terms of how much he plays or if he plays. We don’t really know.

“He’s just got to be ready.”

With 10 healthy players capable of contributing in different areas, it’s conceivable that all will get minutes. Golden State’s rotation, previously tight due to circumstances, now is tight by choice and flexible out of urgency.

Download and subscribe to the Dubs Talk Podcast