Steve Kerr Explains Ill-Fitted Lineup Tweaks in Warriors Loss Without Steph Curry

Warriors coach Steve Kerr

Getty Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors looks on against the San Antonio Spurs.

Steve Kerr made a couple of significant changes in the Golden State Warriors‘ starting lineup in the wake of Stephen Curry‘s injury which backfired, resulting in a disastrous 126-113 loss on Saturday, March 9, to the Western Conference-worst San Antonio Spurs who were without their top 2 players.

“My main motivation for the starting lineup was to get off to a great defensive start,” Kerr told reporters after the jarring loss that nailed them at 10th spot in the West with 19 games left. “I
wanted to set a tone with a really good defensive lineup. See how we could score.”

The starting lineup of Chris Paul, rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga looked good defensively, holding the Spurs to only nine points in the first five minutes of the game.

But on the offensive end, they looked ill-fitted with no spacing as they also bled for only nine points.

Jonathan Kuminga’s 1st Half Struggles

With no shooters to create space and lack of ball movement, Kuminga, their best downhill attacker, struggled for only four points on 2 of 6 shooting in the first half.

Their stagnant offense eventually caught up with their defense as the Spurs, the 29th-ranked 3-point shooting team, caught fire.

“Our defense was fine but as the game went on, we had multiple breakdowns,” Kerr said. “They got to the rim at will.”

Without generational rookie Victor Wembanyama and second-leading scorer Devin Vassell, the Spurs drove to the basket and kicked out to open teammates, leading to a blistering 17 of 33 from the 3-point zone.

“It was tough for us defensively,” Kerr said. “We just never had any traction. I didn’t feel like we had confidence or energy. Their pace and their movement bothered us. And then we had some breakdowns. It just felt like we were never really in the game.”

Steve Kerr’s 2nd Half Adjustment

After the Spurs took a 62-43 halftime lead, Kerr returned to the drawing board.

“We’re playing some lineups that haven’t played together a whole lot,” Kerr said. “And with Steph out it, changes things dramatically for us in terms of what he provides, not only with the shooting but the spacing and the gravity that pulls defense. There aren’t as as many driving lanes for sure so it’s it’s different.”

In the second half, Kerr tried to mimic that with Klay Thompson as the floor spacer.

Thompson started in the third quarter, with his shooting gravity opening the lane for Kuminga. Thompson scored 27 points off the bench while Kuminga scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half.

But Kerr’s adjustment came a little too late as the Spurs already had the momentum. They had an answer to every Warriors’ comeback attempt.

“[In] The second half, we tried to do our best to get back in the game,” Kuminga told reporters after the loss. “It was a little bit late.”

Kerr is likely to start Thompson alongside Kuminga when they face the Spurs again on Monday, March 11 at San Antonio to avoid another scoring drought.

Steph Curry Injury Update

Curry’s MRI showed no structural damage which is good news for the Warriors, who are now 3.5 games outside the sixth seed in the West with 19 games left.

“I would say it’s a good result. The MRI was clear, he’s feeling better today,” Kerr said. “So all in all I would call it positive.”

Curry is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Tuesday, March 12.