Tag: Andrew Bogut

Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

Steve Kerr’s openness to new ideas has Warriors on brink of title


OAKLAND — It’s been noted a lot in the past few days: Golden State decided to go small and start Andre Iguodala over Andrew Bogut at the suggestion of Nick U’Ren, a 28-year-old with the title “special assistant to the head coach” who is sort of a jack of all trades for the Warriors.

The last time the Warriors were down 2-1 in a series against Memphis, it was assistant coach Ron Adams who first suggested putting Andrew Bogut on Tony Allen defensively, the creative and brilliant adjustment that changed that series around.

In both cases, head coach Steve Kerr listened to the ideas, liked them, implemented them and they have the Warriors on the brink of an NBA title. Golden State is up 3-2 over the Cleveland Cavaliers can close out the series Tuesday night with a win in Cleveland.

These two instances are high profile, but it follows the pattern of being open to input the Warriors have had all year, said assistant coach Luke Walton.

“Another thing Steve’s been great at is he wants an open line of communication with everybody…” Walton said before Game 5. “Sometimes we’ll have a plan we come down with and Draymond (Green) or Andre (Iguodala) or both of them, or whoever, will say ‘we want to guard it like this.’ And we’ll scrap what we did upstairs and say we’ll do it the way you guys want to do it, and if it’s not working this is how we’ll make the in-game adjustment.”

Not all coaches work that way. Not even close. Often it is more of a top-down dictatorship. Kerr wants to hear what everyone says. Even the special assistant to the coach in texts at 3 am.

“Coach Kerr always tells us, ‘I listen to anybody — video guy, video intern.’” Draymond Green said. “Those guys watch a ton of film. You know, sometimes they may even watch more film than coach does, they’re the ones breaking it all down. So it just says a lot about Coach Kerr’s character that he would listen and get it worked out.”

Kerr, despite his rings as a player and a pedigree that includes playing next to Michael Jordan and Tim Duncan, is fairly egoless as a coach. He’s modern in that way, more like other successful new coaches (Brad Stevens in Boston, Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix). It’s a collaborative effort.

And it’s working.

It may even get Kerr another ring. And the first title for the Warriors in 40 years.

2015 NBA Finals: No bigs allowed

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:

“It’s not a series for bigs.”

The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):


And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.

This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:


Game 5 took small ball to another level.

Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).

The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.

Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.

In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:


Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.

The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.

Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?

David Blatt’s gambit going small didn’t work, but was only call he could make

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

OAKLAND — There comes a point in every NBA playoff series — particularly a Finals series — where a coach realizes that he is about to lose, that what has worked to get them there is no longer good enough. When that happens, you see desperation moves. Heck, in 2008 Phil Jackson tried to roll out Chris Mihm against the Celtics front line because he needed a desperation move.

Cavaliers coach David Blatt reached that point early in Game 5. The Warriors had gone small in Game 4, subbing Andre Iguodala in for Andrew Bogut. It worked.

Blatt had tried to counter by staying big with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in at the same time, and Mozgov had 28 points in Game 4. And the Cavaliers lost by 21.

To open Game 5 the Warriors missed a couple threes and had a couple turnovers, but then really started to expose Mozgov — Golden State hit four of their next five. There was Stephen Curry with a layup, Draymond Green with a dunk in transition, followed by Green with another dunk — Green and the Warriors were  exposing Mozgov’s inability to get out on the perimeter and still protect the rim, plus the fact Mozgov is not fast in transition. Golden State was getting the shots it wanted and early on was starting to pull away (already up 8-2). They had solved the Cavaliers. This game was going to get ugly.

Blatt knew it. So he made a desperate move and decided to match the Warriors small lineup. Out came Mozgov and in came J.R. Smith.

After the game Blatt took a lot of criticism for going small, including a number of questions about why he went away from his big man and trying to pound the Warriors inside as they had Game 4. Blatt responded by noting they lost the lost Game 4 by more than this one. Game 5 was a one-point game with just more than five minutes left, which is a lot closer than Game 4.

“I thought (going small) was our best chance to win the game, and we were definitely in the game with a chance to win,” Blatt said.  So that’s the way we played it.”

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers to some offensive rebounds late in Game 4, and there were no solid second scorers behind LeBron James in Game 4 like Mozgov in Game 4. On the surface you can make the staying big argument, but it misses the real picture.

The reality for Blatt was obvious and simple:

If he stayed with the big lineup, he was going to get blown out. Again.

Going small played to Golden State’s strengths, but it worked a lot better than staying big did or would have.

The problem for Blatt and the Cavaliers is it doesn’t matter what style he plays — the Warriors are the better, deeper team. The Warriors have more pieces on the chess board and can adjust. The Cavaliers made some nice adjustments in this game to get J.R. Smith open off some pindown actions, and he hit his first three from beyond the arc. Then the Warriors adjusted how they defended the action (switching more) and that play went away, it didn’t work. The Warriors have the depth, the personnel to counter anything the Cavaliers try.

Blatt was getting beat playing big. So, he took a gamble playing small. It didn’t work out.

But he had to try something. The status quo was his team getting blown out again.