Warriors film study: The New Death Lineup is showing some cracks – Golden State Of Mind

    we have to tackle a huge elephant in the room.

    There is a reason why small sample size theater is taken with a large grain of salt. “theater” is the appropriate description; it can reflect the realities of life, but it can also delve into the fantastical and completely ridiculous.

    Reading: Golden state warriors death lineup

    The Golden State Warriors’ new “lineup of death” of Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green set the Denver Nuggets on fire when it was first introduced. how could it not be possible? the offensive possibilities were endless, especially against a team without top-tier perimeter defenders, with a great anchor who, while a greatly improved defender, was ill-equipped to take on the defensive pivot role.

    We don’t need to delve into why this alignment works against figurative sieves. It’s pretty simple: The Curry-Thompson-Poole trio provides arguably the greatest shot equity of any three-man combination in NBA history.

    the actions that involve them are endless. one shooter can block the other, perhaps even “ghosting” the screen to punish aggressive coverage, while the third sits on the weak side to virtually eliminate a defender from the equation. dribbling penetration and getting both feet into the paint to draw defenses in opens ejection paths, which can create open shots or further engage defenses by putting them on rotation and forcing them to fight swing-back sequences. swing.

    The warriors’ penchant for moving shots puts their powerful marksmen in positions where they can thrive the most. even one of them in any 5-man lineup can draw a lot of defensive misses from opponents; when you put three of them in a lineup, it becomes a comically unfair and untenable position for the defense.

    The defensive concerns were there, but the thought process behind having a historically seminal defender in green and a robust wing defender in wiggins was that they could shore up some of the potential holes. Thompson is still not the same side engine he had before his injury, but he could still survive in a pinch against quick and cunning guards, while also being able to switch against strike zone operators.

    Curry’s natural limitations are still pronounced: a small shooting guard with no outlier physical or athletic attributes. but his motor and ingenuity make up for such shortcomings; An increase in muscle mass and functional strength also helped him cope with bumps and bruises, and improved one area of ​​his defense: screen navigation.

    poole remains the only defensive weak spot. his defensive fundamentals still need improvement; he lacks lateral movement and his hip fluidity is limited. being outmatched by his assignments forces him to compensate with hits and reaches, causing him to commit unnecessary fouls.

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    The nuggets’ lack of top-tier perimeter scoring gave Poole plenty of breathing room and allowed him to hide primarily as a weakside off-the-ball operator. The nuggets’ preferred diet of creating plays in the post rather than placing repetitive screens didn’t force Poole into as much action as they probably should have.

    an almost perfect combination of offense and defense translated into divine numbers. after the opening 2 games against the nuggets, the new lineup of death sported a 204.3 ortg and 75.0 drtg, while outscoring the nuggets by 129.3 points per 100 possessions, all in 11 total minutes of court time .

    apply the context mentioned above (the insufficiencies of pips on defense and the natural advantages such a lineup has over opposing personnel) and those numbers, while astronomical enough to deserve praise, are hugely inflated. and have a limited scope.

    compare this to how the lineup is doing against the memphis grizzlies, especially on the defensive end, and it’s night and day. the grizzlies are a more perimeter-oriented team, powered by a perimeter saw, which translates to more blocking and isolation.

    grizzlies will not hesitate to adopt a search and destroy strategy. they will search for discrepancies, and poole has been the one they searched for the most.

    morant is a dizzying 1.67 points per possession (ppg) in isolations in the last 2 games against the warriors, a massive increase from his 0.97 ppg in isolations during the regular season, and an even more marked difference from his 0.53 ppg in isolations against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round.

    Warriors who give up the easy switch from poole to morant is not ideal. It’s bad enough that Morant licks his chops and systematically takes down his man; he also pounces on switches that are wrong. In the first clip above, Poole found himself on the wrong end of an action when Ziaire Williams changed the angle of his screen at the last minute, giving Morant an open lane to the rim.

    The ingenuity of the screen played a huge part in the Grizzlies forcing those changes (change angle at the last second, blocking from the other side, etc.) and acted as a counter to the Warriors’ attempts to “previously change”. screens to prevent poole from getting involved.

    The earlier change of warriors before poole could come in was the right call, but an offensive star of morant’s caliber found ways to get around it.

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    the warriors made it too easy for morant to pick his spots and attack the engagements he wanted. he also didn’t help that they avoided a relentless approach at the other end of the court; In other words, they didn’t target Morant enough to take advantage of his shortcomings on the defensive end.

    Forcing morant to defend all sorts of actions, both on the ball courtesy of on-the-ball screens and isolations born of forced switches, and through off-ball screens and putting him in rotation, is an easy task.

    The on-ball element is of particular interest. based on instant tracking, morant was forced to defend only 4 possessions as a pick-and-roll on-ball defender (4 points allowed, 1.00 ppg) during game 2, and was not forced to defend a single possession of isolation.

    Contrast that to the number of times he attacked warriors in the pick-and-roll as a ball handler (9 possessions) and in isolation (12 possessions). Therein lies the philosophical differences between the two teams: the warriors opportunistically attack mismatches but do not actively seek them out; grizzlies aren’t afraid to intentionally bring them out for maximum effect.

    These possessions where morant was marginally involved or not involved in the action felt like missed opportunities:

    In 11 minutes of total playing time against the grizzlies, the once-feared new death lineup has been outscored by a total of 11 points. Extrapolate that to every 100 possessions, and he’s been outscored by a whopping 51.4 points per 100 possessions, with an extremely tough offense (83.3 ortg) and Swiss cheese defense (134.8 drtg).

    There is plenty of time for things to change and adjustments to be made. But Steve Kerr is almost forced to play this lineup early on, and no doubt as the predominant lineup going forward. The loss of Gary Payton II to injury limits the versatility of Kerr’s defensive lineup, with virtually no choice but to meet firepower with firepower.

    But that doesn’t mean eschewing defense altogether, which means not giving up the easy switch and letting Morant dictate the tenor of midcourt possessions. there should be more fierce resistance against morant trying to do what he wants, while he takes the opportunity to make him work on the other end, which would hopefully affect his offensive performance.

    Otherwise, it could be a very long series for the warriors, one that might not end favorably for them.

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