- The Golden State Warriors turned to the “Death lineup” or “Hamptons 5” to start Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans.
- The lineup, which features Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green, is the Warriors’ best unit, and they blew the Pelicans out on Sunday.
- Steve Kerr likes to save his best lineup for the biggest moments, and he apparently felt Game 4 was a must-win, so he used his deadliest weapon.
Since acquiring Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, the Golden State Warriors have only lost three playoff games.
After the third, a 119-100 Game 3 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided he was done messing around.
On Sunday, for Game 4 in New Orleans, Kerr started the “Death lineup” for the first time all postseason. Though that group usually gets minutes in the games – in fact, they often close games together – it was the first time Kerr has started with the group in the playoffs since acquiring Durant.
The lineup, which features Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Durant, was born in the 2014-15 season. Back then, Harrison Barnes occupied Durant’s place in the unit. The small-ball lineup, which uses Green at center, overwhelmed opponents with its speed, shooting from all five positions, ball-handling, passing, and length.
With Durant in Barnes’ place, some have taken to call it the “Hamptons 5” – Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala all went to the Hamptons in New York in the summer of 2016 to recruit Durant to the team.
It has seen plenty of action over the years, but Kerr had not started a playoff game with the “Death lineup” since the 2016 Finals, which the Warriors later lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But on Sunday, against the Pelicans, Kerr wanted to make sure his team didn’t lose a second consecutive game.
It worked. The Warriors opened the game by going up 20-6 in the first six minutes. The Warriors can dazzle with their ball movement and unselfishness, but what makes the Death lineup so scary is that it doesn’t require much work – at any moment, there is a mismatch to attack only one pass away.
The play below shows the Warriors’ subtle genius – Anthony Davis lost track of Green because he was watching Iguodala in transition. Green went to screen for Curry, who is like a magnet on the offensive end, pulling defenders wherever goes. Nikola Mirotic got caught on Green’s screen, and Klay Thompson wisely ran to the corner for an uncontested three.
But the Warriors can score, regardless of who’s on the floor. What makes them unique is how they can ratchet up the defensive intensity and suffocate opponents. The Pelicans couldn’t get clean looks early in the game. If the Warriors get a stop and get to run out in transition, it’s over.
The Pelicans battled their way back into the game, trailing by seven as they went into halftime. However, it wouldn’t last long. The Warriors began the second half with a 19-10 run that pushed their lead to 16, and they never looked back.
For the game, every member of the Warriors starting lineup was a +21 or better, meaning they blew out the Pelicans when they were on the floor.
If there’s any consolation for the Pelicans, it’s that they were the first team to get the Warriors’ full attention. Kerr did not want to lose Game 4, which would make the Warriors return to New Orleans for Game 6. It was time to put the Pelicans away.
Kerr has been hesitant to use the Death lineup too much for fear of wearing down Green, who at 6-foot-7, has to match up with significantly bigger players. Kerr also likes to save his best options for the biggest moments.
Apparently, he deemed Game 4 a big moment. It would be a surprise to see Kerr turn to the Death lineup to start a game again, but once again, when the Warriors need a lift, they have the ultimate trump card.
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