The Golden State Warriors are returning to a championship formula.
Head coach Steve Kerr told media members on Saturday, February 4, that he planned to revert to a larger starting lineup moving forward. His comments came following the Dubs’ 119-113 home victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which broke a two-game losing streak.
Kerr had been regularly deploying a smaller starting five that featured Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green on the front line alongside Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole in the backcourt. The Warriors switched that up against the Mavs, moving Poole back into his former role as sixth man and starting Kevon Looney at center.
“I’m going back to it,” Kerr said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “Came to the conclusion that our best bet is to start with the bigger lineup. We know that five-man unit is the #1 or #2 lineup in the NBA.”
Steph Curry Injury Will Determine Warriors’ Lineup, Playoff Chances
Kerr was perhaps being optimistic about his squad’s ability to flip back to its old lineup structure, as though the shift is as simple as flipping on a light switch. The primary reason for that is the new health concern dogging Curry.
Curry left the floor during the second half of Saturday night’s contest after colliding knee-to-knee with Dallas guard McKinley Wright IV.
ESPN tweeted out video of the incident after it occurred.
Kerr addressed his point guard’s injury following the game, saying that the team is waiting on results of an MRI and that he is unaware if Curry aggravated an existing contusion that required the knee in question to be wrapped up prior to the start of Saturday night’s contest.
“I don’t know anything,” Kerr said, per Warriors on NBCS. “Anytime a guy is gonna get an MRI there’s a concern level, for sure. So we’ll just have to wait and see the results.”
A second reporter then asked Kerr a follow-up question on what he thought as he watched Curry, and potentially the team’s season, limp to the bench and then the locker room.
“This is not the first time,” Kerr said. “He plays hard and he’s all over the floor. This has happened many, many times over the years, so fingers crossed that he’s okay.”
Golden State Has Thin Margin of Error in Western Conference
In some ways, the timing of Curry’s injury is fortunate. The Warriors must play just five games before the NBA All-Star Break takes them completely off the schedule for a full eight days between February 15 and February 22.
Three of those are home games and two are road games in West Coast states. Just one of the five contests is against a team with a winning record, which comes against the Los Angeles Clippers in L.A. on February 14.
Golden State is currently 27-26 and sitting in seventh-place in the Western Conference standings, just one-half game behind the Mavericks for the final spot in the top six.
Curry has missed a total of 15 games this season, in which the Warriors have earned a refreshingly successful record of 7-8, per StatMuse. However, with the West as bunched up as it is — with just 5.5 games separating the 13th-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and the third-seeded Sacramento Kings — any extended period without Curry is going to be magnified.
Over the course of his 38 games played this season, Curry is averaging 29.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game in 34.8 minutes of court time per night, according to ESPN statistics. He is shooting 49.3% from the field and 42.9% from behind the 3-point arc.
If Curry is unable to play for any stretch of time, the Warriors’ likely move will be to substitute Poole back in as a starter alongside Looney, Green, Wiggins and Thompson in the Dubs’ best available version of their big lineup.