Good Morning Dub Nation,
The Golden State Warriors will be fighting for their playoff lives on Wednesday night as they attempt to dig themselves out of a 3-1 series hole against the Los Angeles Lakers. Adjustments have been key throughout this series, specifically when it comes to the Warriors’ starting lineup. Head coach Steve Kerr has deployed three different sets of starters through four games this series, each to varying degrees of success.
In Game 1, Kerr went with the traditional lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney. Although this lineup was one of the best combinations in the league this season, this particular matchup against the Lakers had it lacking the necessary offensive firepower to open up easy scoring opportunities.
This brings us to Game 2 where Kerr substituted nine-year veteran JaMychal Green in for Looney. The adjustment worked wonders as the additional shooter spread the Lakers out while opening up the rest of Golden State’s offense. However, as the series shifted to Los Angeles, Green’s shot went cold as he finished 0-of-3 from the three-point line in Game 3.
The most recent adjustment was in Game 4 as Kerr elected to go with Gary Payton II as the fifth starter. This gave the Warriors a quicker roll option on high ball screens with Curry while also giving them defense on the perimeter. Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area highlighted Payton’s impact on the starting lineup in his latest article.
At halftime with the Warriors up by three, Payton was a plus-4 in plus/minus with six points on 3-of-5 shooting. Kerr’s decision appeared to help Steph Curry, too. Curry was at 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first half, and also had seven assists without a turnover.
Curry assisted on two of Payton’s three made shots through the first two quarters. Both were off high pick and rolls, forcing Lakers defensive star Anthony Davis to clear the paint and leak out to the 3-point line. That was the Warriors’ bread and butter in the first half, just as it was in their Game 2 win.
Now entering a win-or-go-home Game 5, Kerr has another decision to make. The most likely choice is to continue with Payton in the starting lineup as it worked well in Game 4. Having said that, the dire state of the series may have Kerr considering another — albeit more riskier — option.
If the Warriors are going to have any shot at winning this series, they have to get Jordan Poole — whose frustrations this postseason have been well-documented — back to being a factor on offense. He is the only other ball handler who can create his own shot on offense which is especially important due to the way the Lakers are focusing their attention on Curry. Adding to it that Poole tends to play better as a starter at home, sets up an interesting high-risk, high-reward opportunity to restore his belief in himself and the team while potentially shifting the momentum of the series. Our Brady Klopfer gave his opinion on this when asked about a game changing lineup that nobody is thinking about in his latest mailbag article.
/hides under the table and whispers very quietly.
Jordan Poole. A lineup of Curry, Poole, Thompson, Wiggins, and Green.
Mind you, I’m not advocating for this lineup. It could end the season in the span of six minutes. It could also keep the season alive in those same six minutes. The spacing and ability to get up and down the court would be incredible. They could run the Lakers off the court. And Poole, who has done so much better as a starter, would have his best chance of breaking out.
It’s risky as all hell, and I absolutely don’t think they should do it. But it’s probably the highest-ceiling starting lineup they can throw out there.
The Warriors have no more room for error heading into Game 5. With the season on the line, it’s time to see what the defending champions are made of as they attempt to overcome their latest adversity.
Here are the rest of today’s stories:
In case you missed it from Golden State of Mind:
- The 3-1 mailbag
- Preview: Warriors on brink of elimination as they face Lakers in Game 5
- Draymond Green named to second-team All-Defense
- Tensions rising for Jordan Poole following Game 4 loss vs. Lakers
- A failed ‘Hammer’ and other Game 4 musings about a Warriors team on the brink of elimination
Other Warriors News:
- Thompson: Stephen Curry nearly pulled it off. Maybe the Warriors will help him out next time (The Athletic)
- Warriors have to keep attacking Lakers’ Anthony Davis in pick and roll (NBC Sports Bay Area)
- Warriors are ‘cooked,’ series vs. Lakers is ‘over,’ Charles Barkley predicts (NBC Sports Bay Area)
- A Laker in Warriors clothes? A look inside L.A.’s scout team preparation (ESPN)
- Marc J. Spears: Jordan Poole ‘selfishness,’ poor performance could set stage for trade (KNBR)
- NBA playoffs: Joel Embiid summons MVP form, powers 76ers to 3-2 series lead over Celtics (Yahoo Sports)
- Nikola Jokic’s triple-double puts Nuggets one win from WCF (ESPN)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo ‘forever grateful’ to Mike Budenholzer (ESPN)
- Raptors’ Masai Ujiri ‘Really Frustrated’ as Wizards Ready to Pounce: Sources (Heavy Sports)
- Jaren Jackson Jr. headlines 2022-23 Kia NBA All-Defensive teams (NBA)