SAN FRANCISCO - Steve Kerr was willing to accept the consequences if his risky move in Game 4 of the NBA Finals didn't work out, but his players made sure it did.
The Warriors coach's decision to start Andre Iguodala for the first time all season and going small paid huge dividends. They tied the series 2-2 with their 103-82 win on Thursday night that now has LeBron James and the Cavaliers staring at an uphill climb.
It's a best-of-three series, and two games would be on Golden State's home court if it goes the distance, including Game 5 Sunday night. It also puts the focus, and some pressure, on Cavaliers coach David Blatt to do something to counter Kerr's move and make sure his already undermanned team isn't running on fumes the way it was for much of Game 4.
"One of the things we've been preaching the whole series is that we wanted to wear them down, and we were able to do that," Warriors forward Draymond Green said. "Pushing the tempo, that was able to wear them down."
The Warriors are far deeper than the Cavaliers, who are missing All-Stars Kyrie Irving (fractured kneecap) and Kevin Love (shoulder surgery). Blatt generally plays seven guys. That may have to change to avoid his players from wearing down.
Looking like they had tired legs, Cleveland shot 33 percent overall and 4-for-27 from three in Game 4. Guards Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert combined to shoot 7-for-35, including 3-for-22 on threes, and totaled 19 points.
Smith described his performance with an expletive after he missed all eight of his three-point tries.
James, who said he was "gassed" at the end of the third and was scoreless in the fourth, is averaging more than 45 minutes per game. He's one of six Cavs playing at least 30 minutes per game. The Warriors tightened their rotation in Game 4, but Kerr still has been playing nine or 10 regularly.
"Coach Kerr did a great job of mixing the lineup," James said. "They have so many different interchangeable players where he can kind of decide how he wants to go."
Blatt has some veterans he can go to to extend his bench, such as Shawn Marion, a good defender and a champion with the Mavericks.
"We don't have many options as far as lineups we can go to, but we can make adjustments," James said.
Replacing ineffective center Andrew Bogut with Iguodala might prove to be Kerr's best decision since turning down the Knicks' coaching job last summer. Kerr admitted he "lied" to reporters, who twice asked him if he was changing the lineup, because he didn't want Blatt to know.
"The actual move changes the chess board," Kerr said. "I think it's important to get better spacing."
The Warriors played with more pace and energy. They got the shots they wanted and forced the Cavaliers to scramble. The Warriors shot their best percentage of the Finals overall (46.8 percent) and from three (40 percent).
Stephen Curry (22 points) was effective and efficient. Iguodala scored 22 and played solid defense on James, and Green rediscovered his game with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"That's another one of those decisions that coach Kerr made that most coaches probably wouldn't make," Green said. "But he had the heart to do it and it worked for us."
The Cavaliers have some time to rest and decide what they need to do to control the tempo and keep their players fresh.
"We're thinner now than we were, but that's not an excuse," Blatt said. "We haven't used it as an excuse yet and we won't start now. We've just all got to pick it up."