BOSTON. During his NBA career, Steve Kerr has made many decisions with high stakes and pressure. Like that day in 1995 when he got fed up with Michael Jordan at Chicago Bulls practice and decided to drop his forearm and ended up with a black eye.

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The coach of the Golden State Warriors had another big event with seven minutes left on Friday in the vital game of Game 4 of the NBA Finals when he decided to take Draymond Green out of the game. The Warriors were five points behind the Boston Celtics and in danger. It was as simple as Green not playing well and the player he went to, Kevon Looney, was that.

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For the next five minutes, the Warriors were up 11–3 with Green out of the game and they took the lead for good. Then Kerr decided to play Green on defense to the maximum only in the last minutes, once he even took a timeout to take him out of the game. In a more limited role, Green made some impressive plays and had one of his best stretches of the series as the Warriors completed a 107–97 win to tie the series at 2–2.

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At first blush, these finals look like Stephen Curry’s greatness against the youthful exuberance of the Celtics, perhaps manifesting itself in big 3-point shots and contemporary pick-and-roll coverage. But as it turns into a three-game series, the title may depend on an old-school scenario: big people.

It all comes down to how Kerr handles what could end up being a sticky situation with Green on one side. And the health of Celtics defensive ace Robert Williams III, who looked like he aggravated a knee injury late in Game 4 that could be the turning point of the series.

Both Kerr and Celtics coach Ime Udoka are likely aware of these realities and their willingness to challenge them until a post-game story is told later.

“I didn’t see anything with Rob and I didn’t hear anything,” Udoka said.

It was like a duck, given that Williams was late four minutes before the game and signaled to the bench to ask to leave the game. After a few moments, he was pulled out and never returned. The Warriors led the Celtics by seven points in the last three-plus minutes.

Williams has by far the best defensive record in the series. When he was on the floor in Game 4, the Celtics outscored the Warriors by six points. When he was away, they were 16 points behind. Udoka may have known that he was unavailable in the future.

Williams has 12 blocks and 5 steals in the series. On Friday, he grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in the playoffs. When he was on the floor, the Celtics were +20 in four games. In games 3 and 4, he looked as buoyant as he’d been in the last few weeks. He covered a huge area, deflecting shots and usually making Warriors cringe.

After recovering from season-ending knee surgery and a bruised bone in his left knee, Williams spent several weeks focusing his entire life on playing and treating his knee. Every day he gets several deep massages of the calves and front of the knee. Tons of ice packs, electrical muscle stimulation, and a process called blood flow restriction, which involves putting a ring on your knee that compresses it to speed up healing.

It worked: after missing seven of the Celtics’ first 14 playoff games, he played in eight in a row. But now it all depends on how bad the escalation can be, and it’s also unclear how he’ll feel on Monday in San Francisco ahead of Game 5 (9:00 pm ET on ABC), which could prove to be a huge variable.

“It’s up and down,” Williams said of his knee before Game 4. “The energy of adrenaline kind of carries me.”

Then comes the scenario with Green, who was so offensively limited in these finals that Williams will often defend him because it allows him to freelance elsewhere. But on the bench, he was truly effective in the fourth quarter, capturing five of nine rebounds and three of eight assists in limited minutes.

Kerr said it was a plan to cut Green’s minutes; The power forward played 33 points in the series. And Kerr cut Looney partially from the starting lineup so he could set up a rotation that would allow Looney to play more in the fourth quarter.

Kerr still needed to call and it was one of the best moves he made in the series. It may even rise to the level of “seasonal savings”. Looney only played six minutes in the fourth quarter in the first three games of the series; he played nearly eight minutes in the vital fourth quarter of Game 4.

“Like most coaches, if you have a group that works well, you just stay with it,” Kerr countered when discussing the selection. “I didn’t play [Looney] enough in game 3. It was my fault. It was important to take him out of the game and he had a huge impact on the game.”

Looney has a whopping +36 in the streak after +21 in Game 4. He was the team’s best rebounder and cornerback, limiting the number of errors. He got a bunch of baskets around the ring, throwing 13 for 18 when he gets hit and resets when attention shifts to something else. This is in stark contrast to Green’s 6-for-26 shooting.

“I’ve definitely never been thrilled about coming out of a game with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter in a game that I have to win,” Green said. “But in the end, if that’s what the coach decides, then you’ll deal with it. You know, I had to keep my head in the game.”

If the same situation comes up in games 5, 6, or maybe even 7, Kerr might have to repeat it again. Looney was the best big man for the Warriors. Although Green and Looney often play together, Golden State can only play one to show their best offense at a crucial moment.

Though they’ve had their battles over the years, Kerr stood by Green, even as his short temper and sizzling resentment in recent years has made the task more difficult. This is now being seriously tested, and it will become more and more intense.

For both sides with these big people, this is a big part of the finale.

“I never want our players to be happy if I knock them out,” Kerr said. “Draymond is incredibly competitive. Whatever it’s worth in Game 5, that’s what we’ll do.”