The 2016 NBA Finals have had little flow.
The Warriors won Games 1 and 2 in routs. Kevin Love got hurt, and with Richard Jefferson starting, the Cavaliers turned the tables and won a Game 3 blowout. The teams kept the same starters as Golden State won Game 4. Then, Andre Iguodala started for a suspended Draymond Green and Kevin Love returned to the starting lineup in Cleveland’s Game 5 win.
Now, with Andrew Bogut hurt, the Warriors must again change starters.
That will be the fifth starting lineup in the 2016 NBA Finals, the most on record. Here’s the number of starting lineups in each Finals since 1983 (as far back as Basketball-Reference.com has records), winning or leading team in blue and losing or trailing team in wine:
The Warriors will tie the 1998 Jazz for most starting lineups in a Finals, three. Utah started John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Bryon Russell and Karl Malone in all six games. Greg Foster started Games 1 and 2, Greg Ostertag Game 3 and Adam Keefe Games 4, 5 and 6.
Golden State could also set the record for most starting lineups in a Finals by the title-winning team. More than 70% of NBA champions in this span used only one starting lineup in the Finals, and none used more than two.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr has said he doesn’t like to make major changes unless his team is down. Since Game 1 ended, Golden State has led this series. But suspension and injury has forced his hand.
Now, Golden State must again adjust to new starters. Easy? No, but the payoff is high. The Warriors are one win from ending these topsy turvy Finals with a championship.