OAKLAND – Though the NBA is undoubtedly a players' league through and through, there are instances when coaches rise up and remind everyone they still matter.
That's particularly true in the playoffs, where a series can go seven games, with each play of every game observed and dissected and studied in search of a solution.
Or, sometimes, it's simply a matter of desperation inspiring innovation, as was the case with the Warriors on Monday in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Down two games to one and on the road, the Warriors sought a way to improve a defense that had performed well below its league-leading standard. Assistant coach Ron Adams suggested a novel approach to head coach Steve Kerr.
We have as our 7-foot rim protector, Andrew Bogut, as our last line of defense. Let's guard the Grizzlies not named Tony Allen, leaving the offensively challenged defensive ace open. Bogut can keep an eye on him while patrolling the paint.
"Great idea," Kerr said Tuesday. "Let's hash it out. How do we match up with everybody else?"
Quite well, as it turned out. The unorthodox tactic allowed Harrison Barnes and Steph Curry to pester the Memphis big men while also leaning into the passing lanes. It caught the Grizzlies off guard and they wound up playing Allen only 16 minutes, which did wonders for the Warriors offense.
It also threw the Memphis offense into disarray. Allen, a 6-6 small forward, shot 2-of-9, and the rest of the starters were similarly out of sync, combining for 37.3-percent shooting.
"This is how you have to do it in the playoffs," Kerr said. "You take a loss. You take another one. You'd better make an adjustment.
"That was just kind of what we came up with as a staff and implemented it. We were just going to kind of see how it went, but it worked well early in the game and it set a good tone for us. We'll see what happens next."
Just like that, the Warriors tied the series, making it look easy in the process.
Sure, Stephen Curry was aggressive and terrific. And Draymond Green was a force of nature. But the game ball for Game 4 must be shared with the coaching staff.
"It changed the game," Kerr said of the move. "It worked for us. Tomorrow will be different. There will be other adjustments made, and we have to be ready to adapt to whatever is coming."