The Boston Celtics are two wins away from claiming the NBA championship.
With a 2-1 series lead entering Friday’s game, Boston is halfway to the 18th title in franchise history.
The Warriors find themselves in a hole, but not unlike the hole they faced during the first year of their eight-year playoff dynasty window. In 2015, they trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-1 before Game 4 in Cleveland.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr swapped Andrew Bogut out of the Game 4 starting lineup for Andre Iguodala, who hadn’t started a game for the Warriors that season. The lineup change proved pivotal. The Warriors went on to win the series 4-2 and Iguodala was named the Finals MVP.
Fast forward to 2022, the Warriors may need to pull another move out of their back pocket to match the Celtics’ overpowering size and physicality.
HOW TO WATCH: Live stream, TV channel for Celtics vs. Warriors, NBA Finals Game 4
‘2015 VIBES’: Warriors lineup change led to title. Can they make similar move vs. Boston’s size?
USA TODAY Sports will have live updates and analysis all evening as Game 2 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals gets underway.
Otto Porter Jr. in, Kevon Looney out
Steve Kerr is shaking up the lineup for Game 4: He started Otto Porter Jr. in place of Kevon Looney. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green round out the Warriors’ starting lineup. Porter Jr. started 15 games in the regular season and hasn’t been in the starting lineup in the 2022 NBA Finals, until now.
The change was short lived. Kerr quickly subbed Looney in for Porter Jr. with 7:23 left in the first quarter.
Draymond’s wife objects to Celtic fans heckling, but Green is unbothered
The TD Garden crowd is known for being rowdy. Remember when Kyrie Irving and Boston fans engaged in a well-publicized back and forth earlier in the 2022 playoffs?
Well, Draymond Green received a similar treatment in TD Garden during Game 3, so much so that his wife called on the league to take action. Following Wednesday’s 116-100 loss, Green’s wife Hazel took to Instagram to object to the Celtic fans’ obscene chants directed at her husband in front of their children.
“Tough loss tonight BUT in NO WAY, shape or form should fans be allowed to chant obscenities at players!” she wrote on her Instagram Story. “The @nba has the audacity to have a whole code of conduct card at every seat about fans and their behavior and how they could be ejected from a game or banned but a whole crowd/section/numerous people get to chant (expletive) YOU DRAYMOND or call him a (expletive) or (expletive)? And nothing??”
Klay Thompson said, “Dropping F-bombs with children in the crowd. Really classy. Good job Boston.” Steve Kerr sarcastically added that Boston fans are “very classy.”
Green, however, appeared to be unbothered with the chants, saying Boston fans “did what I expected.”
“I embrace it,” Green said after Game 3. “That’s something that I enjoy. Waste a lot of energy talking to me, so it’s great. It’s great. Looking forward to Friday.”
You may remember Green enthusiastically dancing to “Whoop that Trick” with Grizzles fans during Golden State’s blowout Game 5 loss to Memphis on May 12. He had the last laugh and responded by dropping 14 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in the Warriors Game 6 win to close out the series.
Steph Curry ‘good to go’ for Game 4, as promised
The Warriors will have Steph Curry on the floor. Coach Steve Kerr confirmed that Curry will play in Game 4 after injuring his left ankle late in Game 3 on Wednesday, the same ankle that kept Curry out of the back end of the regular season with a sprained ligament.
“He told me he felt good,” Kerr said ahead of Game 4 on Friday. “I don’t know exactly what he’s done treatment-wise, but the training staff says he’s good to go.”
Curry was down on the court in pain with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter of Game 3 after he and other players tried to corral a loose basketball. As Curry dove to the floor, Boston’s Al Horford appeared to fall on Curry’s left leg. Draymond Green said he heard Curry “screaming at the bottom of the pile.”
Curry hurt the same ankle on a similar play in a late-season game against Boston on March 16 after Marcus Smart made a diving lunge and landed on his lower leg.
“I know exactly what it is,” Curry said Thursday. “I guess (there’s) comfort knowing I’ve been through it before, but also you would rather not have to deal with something like that at this point in the season.”
Despite the injury, Curry vowed that he’s “going to play.” He’s a man of his word.
‘I’M GOING TO PLAY’: Steph Curry’s diagnosis for Game 4 of NBA Finals
Jordan Poole a big X-factor as Warriors try to regain footing
Warriors guard Jordan Poole has arguably been the Warriors’ biggest X-factor the entire season, and we’re seeing why in the Finals.
Aside from a short stretch late in Game 2 after the result was largely decided, Poole has not made a significant impact on the Finals. He’s scoring 12 points per game in the series after averaging 18.4 in the first three rounds.
Golden State desperately needs his production as a third (and sometimes second) scoring option, especially if Steph Curry is going to be hampered at all by the apparent leg injury he sustained in Game 3.
When asked what needs to change for Game 4, Poole told reporters on Thursday, “Just being able to take what the defense gives us. Some bigs are deeper than others, some are a little bit higher. Being able just to be aggressive and get to the [rim] as well is something that can help.”
Warriors losing second assistant coach
Warriors assistant and former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has agreed to take the Charlotte Hornets job, becoming the second Warriors assistant coach to earn a head coaching job. Warriors assistant Mike Brown was hired by the Sacramento Kings last month.
Atkinson, 55, will replace James Borrego, who was fired in April after going 138-163 in his four seasons with the team.
Atkinson brings prior head coaching experience. He was the Nets’ coach for nearly four seasons, compiling a record of 118-190. He was credited with leading Brooklyn from 20 wins in his first season to 42-40 record in 2018-19 — the Nets’ first playoff berth since 2015.
He was fired in Brooklyn in March 2020 just prior to the season getting suspended due to the pandemic. He spent the next season on the Los Angeles Clippers’ staff before joining Steve Kerr and Golden State this season.
Both Atkinson and Brown will remain with the Warriors through the end of the NBA Finals.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals live updates: Porter in starting lineup