The Golden State Warriors, up 3-2 in the series, are expected to start their proverbial “death lineup” in Game 6 of the ongoing NBA Finals against Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Andrew Bogut’s season-ending injury has left coach Steve Kerr with no other choice. During the previous finals, Warriors started the “death lineup” in Game 4 and closed out the series by Game 6 with three consecutive victories. In this year’s playoffs, Kerr has resisted the idea of going totally small from the onset, using Bogut’s elite rim protection for most of the first and third quarters.
Warriors need to go for the kill
Kevin Pelton, ESPN insider, wrote an insightful article Wednesday, highlighting the effectiveness of the “death lineup” which features Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Andre Igudala, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. “Consider that 10 times this season, Golden State has been outscored with non-Death lineups on the court but won the game anyway because of the Death Lineup’s performance,” Pelton wrote.
During the postseason, the Warriors have outscored opponents by 49.3 points per 100 possessions in clutch situations while fielding the “Death Lineup”. According to Pelton, the “Warriors’ plus-38.6 net rating in what NBA.com defines as “clutch situations” was the second-best in the NBA.com/Stats database dating back to 1996-97.”
Draymond set for redemption
With Draymond Green returning from suspension, the Warriors will receive a major boost on both ends of the floor. “I move on from the suspension. That was Game 5; we’re here in Game 6 so it’s behind us. We got an opportunity to do something that, I don’t know if it’s ever been done … where you win a championship on someone else’s floor two years in a row. We have that opportunity. It’s a fun one. It’ll be tough,” Green told reporters on the eve of Game 6.
If the Warriors win the NBA championship on Thursday, they’d become the first team since the Boston Celtics to win back-to-back titles on the road. The Celtics beat the Lakers in Los Angeles in 1968 and 1969. Last year, the Warriors closed out the series in Game 6 at the Q.