How Kevin Durant’s Defense Made The Thunder’s Small-Ball Unit So Deadly In Their Game 3 Blowout

05.23.16 3 years ago 3 Comments
draymond green, kevin durant

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The Thunder just discovered another way to beat the Warriors, and it’s got nothing to do with the pre-series discussion about their size advantage.

Much has been made of the Warriors’ small-ball “Death” lineup, with Draymond Green at the five, Harrison Barnes at the four, and Andre Iguodala as a ball-handling three. With Klay Thompson and Steph Curry in the backcourt, they can switch almost everything on defense, and Dray gives them a presence at the rim. You already know what that lineup’s offense can do, especially when everyone is accurate from downtown.

But the Thunder have a small-ball lineup, too, and it was put to devastating effect Sunday night when Kevin Durant turned into an elite back-line defender and Andre Roberson showed that he can thrive on the offensive end as a post player, rather than the weak-link in the far corner the Warriors could sag off of to help out elsewhere.

This is somewhat new, too. The Thunder had only played four minutes with this lineup in their previous playoff games this season, and they looked bad in that time. The intermittent instances in the regular season when they deployed this small-ball group, they scored a ton of points (1.121 per possession), but gave up even more (1.191), per NBAWowy.

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