The Warriors aren’t the same team without Stephen Curry. They simply cannot replicate his shooting and gravity, and their offensive ceiling is greatly lowered.
But the Warriors are still a very good team, and have elite defensive potential. But due to more injuries and a lack of focus, we didn’t see much of it in the regular season.
In Game 1, Steve Kerr decided to start Andre Iguodala instead of Quinn Cook, hoping to start the game with defensive intensity. In first quarters all year long, the Warriors have been lackadaisical at that end, and Kerr desperately needed the “switch” to be turned on. I had suggested that this lineup would be the Warriors’ best without Curry two weeks ago, but I had no idea that the Warriors would start games with it. It’s a little surprising given the Warriors’ reliance on their small Death Lineups in years past, but without Steph, the entire philosophy must change.
Well, the switch definitely was turned. The Warriors came out terrifically, proving they could still play defense at a championship level. The lineup of Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and JaVale McGee has tremendous height and length, and smothered the Spurs’ mediocre offense. On the other end, the Warriors looked like they had enough shooting and spacing to run their sets. In about sixteen minutes, the group was a +14, cementing good starts in both halves.
Defense to Offense : #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/XhtDMk5oGU— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) April 14, 2018
Impressive defensive execution by the Warriors. Do not forget it, defense wins championships #nbaPlayoffs2018 pic.twitter.com/P3te8nVicQ— NBA 305 (@NBA_305) April 14, 2018
In Game 2, the big lineup wasn’t as as successful, but a lot of that was due to Draymond Green’s early foul trouble. JaVale McGee was exploited more this game, but David West showed that his defensive skills could complement the super big lineup well in the future. Looney with Thompson, Iguodala, Durant, and Green is my personal favorite lineup, but any number of them could work depending on the matchup. With Andre Iguodala looking healthy and hitting his open threes, the Warriors should have enough shooting and spacing to succeed offensively while they put on the clamps on the other end.