OAKLAND -– It has become an ongoing gag, Warriors coach Steve Kerr being asked before a playoff game about his starting lineup and responding with polite dismissal.
Though Kerr now plays along with this, um, ritual, there was a slight deviation when I brought up the subject Thursday, two hours before Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Cleveland.
Though Kerr didn’t reveal his starting lineup he did acknowledge he reached a decision Tuesday, one day after the Warriors defeated Oklahoma City to win the Western Conference Finals.
“I have decided. I decided approximately 48 hours ago,” Kerr said. “And I look forward to your reaction when they announce the starting lineup.”
The answer was greeted with laughter throughout the room because it has become such a daily game before the game.
The question is germane, however, because Kerr made a lineup change in Game 4 of the 2015 Finals against the Cavaliers that effectively propelled the Warriors to the championship. He replaced center Andrew Bogut with forward Andre Iguodala, sacrificing size but gaining speed and agility.
That was crucial to the Warriors overcoming a 2-1 deficit to win three successive games and win the series in six.
Bogut returned to the starting lineup in the regular season, with Iguodala resuming his sixth man role. That held true in both games against Cleveland, though Iguodala ended up playing more minutes in each game.
Kerr made a change prior to Game 7 of the conference finals on Monday, swapping out Harrison Barnes for Iguodala. Though Kerr made that decision Sunday night, he sidestepped the issue in his pregame news conference and sprung it less than one hour before tipoff.
What will Kerr do before Game 1? The answer will come sometime between 5:15 and 5:45, and Kerr’s anticipation of the reaction makes it kind of intriguing.