Why Kerr went back to Dubs starters late in Game 4 loss to Mavs


For the first three quarters of their Game 4 119-109 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night, the Warriors starters were about as ineffective as they could possibly be.

When the third quarter at American Airlines Center came to an end, every member of the Warriors' starting lineup was at least a minus-18 and the Warriors trailed by a staggering 29 points.

So Warriors coach Steve Kerr did what any coach would do, pulling his starters and putting in a bench unit aimed at soaking up minutes before moving on to the next game.

But a weird thing happened. The unit of Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Nemanja Bjelica, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody played well. Really well. So well that they took a large bite out of the Mavericks' lead, cutting the deficit all the way down to eight points with just under three and a half minutes left in regulation.

But instead of riding that unit to see if they could complete the comeback, Kerr first put Steph Curry back in the game for Lee. Then Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins returned for Kuminga and Moody. Draymond Green and Kevon Looney were the only starters who didn't play in the fourth quarter.

The first question to Kerr from reporters after the game was about his decision not to stick with the guys that got the Warriors back in the game.

"Yeah, I mean, with about five minutes left, I think we cut it to 14 or so," Kerr said. "And I kind of looked at the other coaches, I looked at Steph, and we just decided if it gets manageable and possible, then let's do it.

"And felt like we had a shot with, I guess, three and a half minutes left when we put Steph and Wiggs and Klay in. I also felt like the group that had played that great run in the fourth quarter, maybe was getting a little tired there. And so just made the decision to see if we can pull off a miracle.

"But it wasn't meant to be. Dallas was great tonight. They deserved to win. They executed. They played with more force. And this is the Conference Finals. This is how it's supposed to be, two great teams, and they handled us well tonight."

Because of the Warriors' furious comeback, the Mavericks were forced to keep Luka Dončić, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber on the court. The Dallas rotational players were able to hold on to the lead and force a Game 5 back in San Francisco on Thursday night.

It's unclear if the Warriors' bench unit had enough left in the tank to erase the final eight points on the deficit, but they gave Kerr and Co. a chance to steal the game and complete the sweep.

RELATED: Disengaged, distracted Warriors fall to Mavs in shadow of Texas tragedy

The good news for the Warriors is that rookies like Kuminga and Moody gained valuable playoff experience and boosted their confidence.

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