NBA

How the Golden State Warriors will use their Death Lineup and other key questions in Western Conference Finals

Jay Asser 18:53 13/05/2018
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The Warriors started their 'Death Lineup' the past two games.

How soon will we see the Death lineup?

It’s not an oversimplification to say the Warriors will – ironically – live and die by their ‘Death Lineup’, featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

Steve Kerr started that five-man unit in the final two games of the second round against New Orleans, and it’s hard to imagine that decision wasn’t made with an eye on the future.

The lineup has had a dominant net rating of plus-40.9 points in 54 playoff minutes, so even if it doesn’t start the game, it will be on the floor often.

Can Durant be slowed down?

You know why the Warriors are so difficult to beat in a playoff setting? Even when you take away their primary actions and muck up their beautiful ball-movement, their failsafe is putting the ball in Kevin Durant’s hands and letting him work.

And there’s no one on the planet capable of completely stopping Durant in a one-on-one setting.

Golden State broke out iso Durant in Game 4 against New Orleans and the approach yielded 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting.

It’s an ace-in-the-hole that’s also a back-up plan – a terrifying reality for Houston.

Will Harden isolations backfire?

The Rockets’ offence isn’t complicated. James Harden and Chris Paul are given the ball and asked to create on their own, both for themselves and to set up teammates.

Harden especially is used in isolation a bunch – 35.1 per cent in the regular season and 35.2 per cent in the playoffs.

That strategy won’t change against the Warriors, but with as versatile as Golden State’s defenders are, he’ll have to be careful not to go down swinging with step-back 3 after step-back 3.

James

How much will Curry be hunted?

Stephen Curry is far from a bad defender. In fact, he’s fairly underrated on that end of the floor. But in this series, he’s going to be the weak link in the Warriors defence that the Rockets will look to exploit.

Golden State will likely start him matched up against a lesser offensive threat like P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute, but expect the Rockets to use his man to screen for Harden in an attempt to get a switch.

The Warriors will do everything they can to avoid that because Harden will both score and draw fouls.

Who will hit open 3-pointers?

As crazy as it sounds, it’s possible this series could come down to something as simple as who makes their open 3-pointers, because there will be opportunities on both sides.

Houston will be happy to help off Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the perimeter, while Golden State will live with 3s from Tucker and Mbah a Moute.

As much attention as the stars are going to attract, the ancillary players will have to leave their mark and take advantage of their chances to give their team the edge.

Draymond

Prediction

Houston have done all they can to increase their variance to give them a legit shot at pulling off the upset. But if the Warriors reach top gear, the odds just won’t be in their favour.

Warriors in 6

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