When Warriors head coach Steve Kerr announced that he was starting the vaunted Hamptons 5/Death lineup before their game one Western Conference Finals matchup with the Houston Rockets, the consensus among Dub Nation was that starting the lineup was the right decision. Obviously, it sent a message that Kerr and the Warriors were not messing around and wanted to set the tone.
In hindsight, the thought and logic to start the Hamptons 5, made sense and was understandable. I wanted to be hyped about it. I tried to but no matter how hard I tried, I could not fight my curiosity.
Not only was I doubting that starting “the lineup” for game one was the right move, I was questioning the motives behind it. I wondered if Kerr starting the Hamptons 5/ Death lineup was out of a luxurious want or a practical need.
Kerr’s usual M.O. when it comes to announcing his lineups is he usually announce it during his pregame presser. Before game 2, Kerr was asked if he was tempted to change his lineup. Not only that Kerr is open to change it, sometimes he don't even know who to start at center.
Steve Kerr on whether he's tempted to change his starting lineup: "Yes, I am tempted to switch it up, but I'm not going to announce anything. ... We'll see what I come up with. I don't even know if I know right now."— Connor Letourneau (@Con_Chron) May 16, 2018
Maybe I’m overreacting and thinking too much, but Kerr’s decision wasn’t as simple as it seemed. You can really make a case for both scenarios.
OUT OF WANT
Obviously, the Houston Rockets have been chirping all season about their obsession with the Warriors and how they built to beat them. With that being said, I can see Kerr and the Warriors starting “the lineup” to send a message and set the tone. What better way to send a message than putting your best five out on the floor and having that line up annihilate the competition?
For game one, it worked. The unit moved the ball and they were locked in on defense. After game two’s adjustments, the unit was outplayed. Since game two, I couldn’t help but to recall a question that I tweeted before the series began.
For the sake of argument, let's just say Kerr don't start The Megadeath/Death Row lineup. Who should start at the 5? JaVale? Zaza? or Loon?— Jannelle Moore (@Jannelle12) May 12, 2018
I asked the question because of Kerr’s tendency to use the Hamptons 5/Death Lineup sparingly. I was thinking that he would open the series with a more traditional and conservative line up and then break out the Hamptons 5 as the series progressed. When Kerr started the Hampton 5
OUT OF NEED
On the other hand, you can say that Kerr had no choice but to “take a trip to the Hamptons” for the win. Kerr started the Hamptons 5/Death lineup for the first time during the second round against the Pelicans after the JaVale McGee experiment in game 3 backfired. Kerr is known to use the lineup sparingly because he didn’t want the risk of tiring out Green at the 5 and not revealing strategy.
However, Kerr’s options could have very well dictated this decision. While Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell are better suited to match up against Houston’s Clint Capella, the two aren’t experienced enough to be thrown into such an intense matchup. Zaza Pachulia and McGee isn’t quite a good look either. Both centers would be mercilessly exploited in the Rockets’ pick and rolls.
It’s almost like Kerr has to start the Hampton 5/Death line up by default if you look at the alternatives.
To Looney’s credit, he has held his own when Houston targeted him 21 times during his 25 minutes of play. On those possessions, Looney surrendered 17 points. Looney is a big with solid footwork. Disciplined and keeps his foot on the ground. However, could Looney withstand the constant targeting for 30 plus minutes?
Now, as game 3 looms closer, the question remains: should the Warriors go a traditional lineup and start Looney. Well, the Athletic’s Tim Kawakami believes Looney should get a shot.
Regardless of the strategy, after the Warriors settled in-”the lineup” lead by Kevin Durant took game one and snatched home court advantage away. Its a given that both teams would make adjustments. So with that being said, in retrospect do you still believe that the Warriors made the right call in starting the Hampton 5 for game one? If not, who should have started and why? Who should start for game 3? Let me know in the comments.