It just so happened that Golden State also needed to claim Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans to avoid losing control of the series, which they did with a 118-92 victory to be a game away from the Western Conference Finals.
Winning was important for the Warriors, but more vital to their long-term outlook in these playoffs is how they won Game 4.
Not only did Kevin Durant look unstoppable as he was leaned on to score, but the team’s ‘Death Lineup’ – or ‘Hamptons Five’, referring to Durant hosting free agent pitches in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016 – fired on all cylinders.
Durant scored Golden State’s first two baskets on pull-up jumpers to set the tone for the night as the Warriors put the ball in his hands often. He finished with 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting, which saw him kill the Pelicans in the mid-range, where he shot 9-of-15.
Jrue Holiday had done relatively well to contain Durant earlier in the series, but in Game 4 there was little any New Orleans defender could do as the Golden State forward was dominant in isolations and post-ups, looking like he did during his Oklahoma City days.
“I just try to tell myself that I’m at my best when I don’t care what happens after the game, the outcome or anything,” Durant said. “That’s when I’m free and having fun out there, and forceful. That was the thing – just try to play with force no matter if I missed shots or not, just keep shooting, keep being aggressive.”
The Warriors would prefer to play a more free-flowing style and whip the ball around instead of putting Durant on an island and relying on him to score in one-on-one situations. By unleashing Durant in Game 4, however, Golden State sharpened a weapon they may have to break out later on when their preferred offensive approach isn’t working.
Warriors’ 3 most-used lineups today:— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) May 6, 2018
• Death Lineup: +26 in 18 minutes, 11/21 from inside the arc, 7/15 from deep, 9/9 from FT
-2 in 9 minutes
• Cook-Livingston-KD-Green-Looney: +4 in 4 minutes
That has long been their go-to lineup in critical situations and in Game 4, it looked up for the task as it registered an offensive rating of 130.1 and a defensive rating of 66.5 for a net rating of 63.6 – a great sign for Golden State’s bid to repeat as champions.
“The versatility of that lineup, everybody is a playmaker,” Curry said. “Defensively we’re flying around. It just got the energy right to start the game.”
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