In surprise move, Warriors to start Festus Ezeli, bring Andre Iguodala off bench in Game 7

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OAKLAND — After he moved through the second half of Game 6 like an old man, Andre Iguodala has been receiving treatment on his back, which was racked with spasms during Thursday night’s contest. A game he started.

It seems to have kept him out of the start of Game 7.

Steve Kerr is starting Festus Ezeli at center and bringing Iguodala off the bench for Game 7 — no death lineup from the opening start. The rest of the starters remain the same: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green.

Kerr can argue that Ezeli brings some of the shot blocking and paint protection to open the game that they lack with Andrew Bogut out since his knee injury in Game 5. If Ezeli plays well, that is true, but he was repeatedly torched by the Cavaliers in Game 6. And something the Warriors don’t talk a lot about, Ezeli has plenty of bumps and bruises of his own right now.

This is likely about keeping Iguodala’s minutes in check early, so that he can play more late as needed. Iguodala is the best defender the Warriors have on LeBron James. If he can’t do it, the job falls to Green, with some Barnes, but that’s a step back and messes with other player rotations.

The Cavaliers starting five remains the same: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson.