For the last few years, the Golden State Warriors have turned to a collection of five players when they’ve wanted to run teams off the floor. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green are commonly referred to as the team’s death lineup, forming one of the scariest five-man groups in the NBA.
But up until Sunday afternoon, that grouping had never started a game together. Steve Kerr had always kept it as his ace in the hole, the lineup he uses when he needs a trump card that overwhelms opponents up with their ball movement, offensive creativity, and frenetic defense.
That changed in Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans, as Kerr threw out his death lineup from the tip. The Warriors responded to this by opening up a 20-6 lead early on against the Pelicans, and despite their opponents scratching and clawing to make it a game in front of a partisan crowd in New Orleans, Golden State came out on top, 118-92.
The story of the game, besides the decision to go to the death lineup right away, was that Kevin Durant made it a point to remind everyone why he is the player with the strongest case for challenging LeBron James’ title as the best basketball player in the world. Durant was brilliant, scoring 38 points on 15-for-27 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists.
Durant was in a rhythm early, as the Warriors were able to get him the kind of comfortable midrange looks that are usually an indicator that Durant is going to have a big game.