If you’ve followed the Warriors at all, you know: One lineup can be a catalyst to a title.
First, the original “death lineup” featured Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.
Then, the “Hamptons Five,” with Kevin Durant in place of Barnes.
Now, it looks like we are witnessing the birth of another iteration, nickname still pending, that has dominated the Denver Nuggets.
The Curry, Thompson, Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole lineup has played sparingly, but now two games in a row has sparked huge runs to push the Nuggets to their breaking point after a 126-106 win Monday.
Nikola Jokic got himself ejected in the fourth quarter after receiving two techs, Monte Morris got one of his own after launching a ball into the basket stand, and Will Barton and DeMarcus Cousins had to be separated during a timeout.
The Warriors new lineup has the Nuggets stressed — and it has only seen the court for around 12 minutes total in the series.
Green called the lineup a “passers paradise” after the game:
Those three guys out there at the same time, for me as a passer, that’s heaven… The one weak shooter around me is Wiggins, and I think he shot 37%.”
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay.ca
Sometimes basketball is as simple as putting your best five players on the court and letting them cook.
And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing.
At times, it looked like the Harlem Globetrotters were toying with the Washington Generals, the way Golden State clowned Denver.
Poole was throwing behind-the-back and no-look passes, Curry was dancing his way through the defense with some extra shimmys at the end, Thompson was canning 3’s, and Green was waving goodbye to the reigning MVP while also locking down anyone in arms reach.
While all the talk will be about the guards, it’s Green who is key to this lineup. It’s Green whose stifling defense allows the Warriors to roll out this offensively unstoppable lineup without being hurt on defense.
Kerr said that with Green, you have to throw out the stat sheet if you want to see his impact:
I don’t know what to say about him. You just don’t look at the stat sheet because it doesn’t mean anything. Draymond dominated that game. He was dominating throughout the first half and late in the half I got a statsheet and I looked down and he had one point and three rebounds. And he was dominating. He’s one of the most unique, powerful and impactful players I’ve ever seen.”
The three-guard lineup entered with six minutes to go in the first half, just as they did Saturday, and reeled off a 22-8 run that slingshotted the Warriors to a six-point lead from which they would never look.
The lineup has outscored the Nuggets 40-14 in the 12 minutes with which they’ve ended both halves.
And the scary part is they may have just started hitting their stride.
Curry came off the bench for the second straight game, but unlike Game 1, looked much closer to his true self, as he poured in 34 points in just 23 minutes.
When asked about his super sub, Kerr had the perfect response:
Humble off the floor, arrogant on the floor. It’s a great combination. And anything that’s going to help the team he’s all for… It’s very matter-of-fact with Steph, there’s never any ego that gets in the way.”
Curry looked much more in rhythm, and was moving at much more dynamic pace than Saturday.
And while Curry amped up his game, the man who is starting for him, Poole, continued to do the same.
After a 30-point breakout in Game 1, Poole followed that up with 29 more to go along with his eight assists and five rebounds.
Kerr said that he knew Poole was good, but he had no idea he could raise his play to this level:
I never envisioned Jordan playing this well at the beginning of the season. Even though he had a great season a year ago. I couldn’t have envisioned this, but he’s earned it.”
The playoffs truly bring out another level in Poole, and this is only the first round.
When the lights get brighter the deeper this team advances, Poole’s game might even take another jump as insane as that sounds.
Who knows what’s in store for this Warriors team, but with this lineup in its back pocket, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see them uncork this in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets get two-full days of rest to recover from getting run off the court Monday, as Game 3 in this seven-game series will take place back in Denver Thursday.
With Stephen Curry’s 34 points, the two-time MVP eclipsed 3000 career points in the playoffs. He became the 27th player in NBA history to reach that mark.