PHILADELPHIA -- The Warriors have 14 wins, but you could argue their last victory was the first they won primarily because of coach Mark Jackson.
The case could be made that the Warriors beat the Atlanta Hawks because Jackson pushed all the right buttons. Instead of losing because his guys didn't have it clicking, Jackson saved the day with his chess skills.
"I believe that's what coaching is. That's what I try to do," Jackson said Thursday after the Warriors' light, voluntary practice at Georgia Tech.
Is the rookie coach coming into his own? Golden State has won three of its last four games. All three wins were close games, which had been a problem for the Warriors. Two of them came on the road, where the Warriors started by losing eight of 11.
Most of the season, it seems Warriors victories were a product of players trusting the system and defeats ramifications of deviating from the preaching.
But Wednesday in Atlanta, Jackson shook up some things, beginning with starting small forward Dominic McGuire in place of injured point guard Stephen Curry, and in the process created some advantages.
Certainly, the Warriors can use every advantage they can get.
"When you look at our team, those subtle adjustments can help you win ballgames or put you in position to win games," Jackson said.
Golden State faces a team Friday in Philadelphia that knows firsthand how a coach can manufacture some advantages. In his second
Similarly, the Warriors are a talented team with its share of flaws. Can Jackson, lauded as a motivator by the men who hired him, cover some of that with his schematics and adjustments?
The Warriors didn't have a lot of things working Wednesday, starting with the absence of Curry for the second consecutive game because of a sprained right foot. Without Curry, the Warriors offense has averaged just 81.5 points the past two games on 37.5 percent shooting.
While starting McGuire didn't give the Warriors an offensive boost, as he missed his only shot, it created another benefit. McGuire altered the personality of the starting lineup, transforming it from an offensive-oriented bunch to scrappy grinders.
With the game on the line Wednesday, instead of force-feeding Monta Ellis (who'd missed 17 of 27 shots), Jackson went to David Lee, who hit the go-ahead bucket with 30.1 seconds left. On top of that, he put in Curry as a decoy to spread the floor for Lee.
Several subtle Jackson moves also paid dividends.
He played Brandon Rush the entire fourth quarter though Rush (1 of 4, two points) was having an off shooting night. Rush grabbed the most critical rebound of the night, capping a much-needed defensive stop in the final seconds.
Jackson also shortened the rotation. Instead of going nine or 10 deep as normal, he had five guys dominate the time in the second half.
Golden State, which sits just three games back of the eighth and final playoff spot, stands a much better shot at making the postseason if Jackson can win some games with his adjustments. He'll need to do a fair amount as Golden State faces a daunting second-half schedule, Curry's status is still up in the air, and the roster could face some alterations by the March 15 trade deadline. Jackson said the pattern of in-game adjustments is likely to continue.
"What I could do is have a quicker leash," Jackson said. "What I could do is finish with the guys who bring the energy and effort we are looking for. ... That's what I mean when I say I'm a flow coach. I look at who we're playing, look at who we've got going, and look at how we can hurt them."