CLEVELAND – When the Warriors conducted their morning shootaround prior to Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night, they did so without knowing if Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (concussion) would be available to play.
Coach Steve Kerr and his staff anticipated that Love might sit, in which case there would be a lineup change for Cleveland. Once Love was ruled out, he was replaced in the starting lineup by veteran forward Richard Jefferson.
“Well, they had good spacing with Kevin, and they'll have good spacing with Richard,” Kerr said in his pregame news conference, 90 minutes before tipoff. “The difference is just the speed, the ability to get to the rim.”
With Jefferson as a starter, LeBron James will move from small forward to power forward Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. The switch shortens Cleveland’s bench but also makes it a sleeker, faster team.
“So they're really going to spread us out and it should give them more driving lanes and more room for LeBron to operate,” Kerr said. “We're going to have to try to do what we've done the first two games, which is cover the 3-point line and also try to cut off LeBron's penetration and keep him from getting all the way to the hoop.
“It's a lot easier said than done, and I think it may be more difficult tonight, at least, to start the game with that lineup.”
The Warriors will go with their usual starting lineup, with Harrison Barnes at small forward and Draymond Green at power forward. Both will part of the platoon alternate in defending James
“There's only so much you can do in preparing for those things,” Kerr said. “We hope we're prepared, but we'll find out tonight.”