In each game since Warriors forward David Lee was sidelined with a hip injury sustained in the team’s first playoff game, coach Mark Jackson has announced a lineup with the expected substitution: Carl Landry starting at power forward.
But instead of Landry taking the court with the starters, it has been Jarrett Jack starting at point guard, with the rest of the starters shifting positions for the opening minutes of each contest.
Though his performances have been overshadowed by the otherworldly efforts of Stephen Curry and the highlight reel plays of Andrew Bogut, Jack has responded well, scoring at least 21 points to go with at least seven assists in each of the three games he has started.
That Jack should respond so well comes as no surprise. He has started in 253 of the 611 games he has played in his career, including four for the Warriors this season. It helps that this team carries some characteristics that make changing roles to suit the situation the natural thing for Jack.
“I think that’s the fun and cool part about our team,” Jack said. “We don’t come in saying we have to necessarily get the ball to one particular person and he’s going to carry us from then on. We do it by committee. We allow the defense to dictate where the ball goes and who makes what plays. We just have a bunch of guys with very, very high basketball IQs, and they’re doing a tremendous job for us.”
For Jack’s part, he said he tries to be the eyes and ears of his coach on the floor, conveying Jackson’s message and keeping everyone on track during the ebbs and flows of the game.
And though the Warriors’ backcourt has been troubled by turnovers during the first four games of their first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets, Jack has already devised a strategy to minimize the damage from those miscues.
“If you do turn it over,” he said, “it might sound kind of crazy, make sure it goes out of bounds so we are able to set our defense up and kind of defend against them. In transition they’re such an athletic bunch and tough to keep under control. Just being sure of your passes and understand our rotations as well.”
Whatever his role, the Warriors will need to continue to rely on Jack’s contributions if they are to claim the final win needed to send the Nuggets home for the summer.
Warriors vs. Nuggets (Warriors lead series 3-1)