Report: Steve Kerr Expects Marreese Speights to Play in Game 1 of NBA Finals

By David Kenyon
Kyle Terada, USA Today

The Golden State Warriors starting lineup, headlined by All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, is the biggest reason Steve Kerr’s team has reached the NBA Finals.

But the squad wouldn’t be complete without a tremendous reserve unit, and the second-stringers have played without a key piece for a strong portion of the postseason. Marreese Speights, a 6-foot-10 center capable of knocking down 20-foot jumpers, has logged just 53 minutes and missed the last eight games.

However, according to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, Speights will return for Game 1 of the Finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Speights averaged a career-best 10.4 points per contest during the regular season, burying 49.2 percent of his field-goal attempts and snatching 4.3 rebounds in an ultra-efficient 15.9 minutes.

Per Basketball-Reference.com, Speights was a piece in three of the franchise’s six-best lineups, as well as the second-and fourth-most used units.

Now, Festus Ezeli seized the majority of Speights’ temporarily vacated role in the Western Conference Finals, so Kerr must decide how much—and when—each proven piece will play. Golden State’s rotations have been suspect at times, and available minutes for backups bigs have understandably shrunk throughout the postseason.

Draymond Green’s value is unmistakable, and he’s the team’s best option to defend James. Consequently, the Warriors will likely employ small-ball units to outrun the Cavaliers.

A five-man lineup of Curry, Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Green and Andrew Bogut should be complemented by a three-man combination of Curry/Leandro Barbosa/Thompson/Shaun Livingston, one of Andre Iguodala or Barnes and either Speights or Ezeli.

Golden State’s depth is a good problem to have, but it’s still an issue Kerr must resolve early on in the series.

Game 1 will be played at Oracle Arena and is scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 4. ABC will broadcast the clash.

Photo: USA Today Sports