The last two games, Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has played 43 and 46 minutes. His back up, Jarrett Jack, has played 33 and 35 minutes the last two games. Conversely, rookie reserves Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore totaled just over 8 minutes the last two games. Veteran Richard Jefferson hasn’t played at all.
Jackson has noticeably shortened his rotation. He’s primarily playing the five starters and Jack off the bench. He’s been mixing in forward Carl Landry and rookie center Festus Ezeli off the bench.
JACKSON: “It’s a combination of both shortening the rotation and reading (the situations). It doesn’t mean those guys aren’t going to play. … The good teams that I’ve been on, the good teams that I’ve watched, this time of year you shorten it.”
As the Warriors shift into playoff mode, Jackson is bracing his team for the intensity of the posteason. Possessions will matter more. The level of play will increase. That means less room for error, and less time for players deep on the bench.
Jackson has also gone away from the mass substitution he used to do at the end of the first and third quarters. Instead of going with the defensive unit (Jack with Ezeli, Landry, Green, Jefferson and rookie forward Harrison Barnes), he has been leaving Curry and/or Thompson in the game along with Lee. At least two starters on the floor at all times seems to be the new pattern.
Jackson said a shorter rotation gets Barnes more minutes on the floor, which is something he wants.
The new substitution pattern seems to be to bring in Jack for Barnes and Landry in for Bogut. Barnes then comes back in to spell Thompson or Curry. Ezeli comes in if the Warriors want to stay big when Bogut comes out. Everyone else is mixed in based on match-ups and situation.
Of course, that means big minutes for the top seven, and ridiculous minutes for Curry, Thompson and Lee — especially Warriors getting at least a day off between most games the rest of the way. They’re going to have to get used to playing for elongated stretches and with tired legs. You can also expect to see Jackson call more timeouts.
JACK: “I don’t know anyone who gets mad at playing more minutes. I just spoke to a couple of guys I saw kind of fall out the rotation, telling them to stay ready because you never know when your name will be called and being ready will allow you to take advantage if your name is called.”
Another factor is Bogut’s return. They have some lost time to make up for with him in the middle. Playing the regulars together for more minutes expedites the process. Bogut over the last six games has averaged 30.2 minutes.