Golden State unleashed an 18-4 run to close out the first half and seal a 123-107 win over the Nuggets. The culprit? The Warriors’ newest version of the Death Lineup.
First there was Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Iguodala, and Green. Then it was Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Green, and Durant. And in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets Saturday night, the Golden State Warriors unveiled version 3.0 of their stapled "Death Lineup."
Curry, Thompson, Green, Wiggins, and Poole.
The unit sparked an 18-4 run to close out the first half, giving Golden State a 58-47 lead that they would never relinquish on route to their 123-107 victory. It was a scoring blitz that was reminiscent of the sheer superiority of offensive firepower that resulted in three NBA championships in five straight NBA Finals appearances. It was an ode to the past dominance of the Warriors’ dynasty, and quite possibly a hint of what’s to come in the future.
The Curry, Thompson, and Poole trio has the ability to overwhelm and overmatch opposing defenses so long as all three are in rhythm and willing to cede touches to whomever is on one on a given night. We’ve seen flashes of just how dominant these three can be when together on the court: in 129 minutes together during the regular season, Curry, Thompson, and Poole had a 121.7 offensive rating and outscored their opponents by 96 points.
Add another 42-16 scoring advantage against the Nuggets in Game 1 to their resume.
What is more telling is that Saturday night’s performance was only the first hint of the synergy between the aforementioned three, in addition to Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins being on the floor. Subsequent injuries to Curry, Thompson, and Green have limited the opportunities with all five together on the court, but for a first run through against the Nuggets, Saturday night’s results hinted that so much more firepower can be uncorked as the unit gets accustomed to each other throughout the playoffs.
In many ways, the death lineup 3.0’s arrival follows the blueprint of what makes Golden State dangerous any given night and most certainly in these playoffs. Many will ask whether the five-man unit will eventually make its way to the starting lineup. Perhaps future playoff matchups will determine that outcome.
But in the meantime, Game 1’s blueprint executed the strategy that has worked for the Warriors to-date. Allow the team to get in rhythm, keep the game within reach, and when the moment comes, unleash the lethal unit that seals the game before opponents know how to counter.
Opponents couldn’t find the antidote to the death lineup in years past, why should anyone believe they have the answer now?