Tag: Brandon Rush

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

Draymond Green at center has carried Warriors to 3-2 Finals lead


Draymond Green at center with four perimeter players behind him was the Warriors’ not-so-secret weapon.

In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Steve Kerr waited to unleash the lineup until the final possession of regulation and then rode it through most of overtime.

The unit got a little more run in Game 2. But Game 3 got away from Kerr as David Lee’s breakout shifted the rotation. Green played just a few seconds at center once Golden State started intentionally fouling late.

So, Kerr boldly started the small lineup in Game 4 and Game 5, ensuring maximum playing time for the group.

The Warriors haven’t looked back since.

Green at center has provided their edge throughout the series. They’re just leaning on it more now.

Here’s how the Warriors have performed in each game with Green at center (yellow) and with all other lineups (blue). The width of the bar represents how much playing time each got.


Game Lineup Minutes Plus-minus


Green at center 4 6
Other 49 2


Green at center 17 6
Other 36 -8


Green at center 0 -4
Other 48 -1


Green at center 27 17
Other 21 6


Green at center 36 23
Other 12 -10

This isn’t a small sample, either.

When Green plays center with a four perimeter players – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Justin Holiday and/or Brandon Rush – behind him, the Warriors have dominated.

Green protects the rim, and everyone switches screens. After stops (or the occasional times opponent basket), everyone runs the floor to generate open shots.

Here’s how the lineup has performed since the start of the regular season, per nbawowy!:

  • Offensive rating: 120.0
  • Defensive rating: 92.8
  • Net rating: +27.2

This grouping isn’t just a change of pace. It’s a reliable strength – one the Cavaliers must solve quickly.

Draymond Green at center strikes again

Draymond Green, James Jones

Steve Kerr waited and waited and waited. Then, the Warriors coach finally played his trump card:

Draymond Green at center.

The lethal lineup didn’t appear until the final possessions of regulation, but it outscored the Cavaliers 8-2 in overtime of Golden State’s Game 1 win.

The Warriors have now played 367 minutes with Green at center and four wings/guards – a combination of Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Justin Holiday and Brandon Rush – behind him. The results:

  • Offensive rating: 119.0
  • Defensive rating: 93.2
  • Net rating: +25.8

Thursday, Green was flanked by Curry, Thompson, Iguodala and Barnes the entire time.

The Warriors first used the lineup on the final two possessions of regulation.

With five shooters on the court for its final shot, Golden State spread the floor and cleared the lane of any defenders. Curry drove for what appeared to be an open layup, but Kyrie Irving made an incredible block at the rim.

The Warriors stuck with the small group to defend Cleveland’s final possession, which was essentially a one-on-one battle between LeBron James and Iguodala.

The unit reappeared in overtime, and that’s when Golden State went on a run to pull away.

Green drives it all.

Watch how he fortifies the paint defensively and gets the ball going the other direction quickly:

This lineup thrives because Green strong enough defensively to allow the Warriors to play four skilled and fast players behind him. Plus, Green is comfortable running with the rest.

Initially, the Cavaliers had Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in the game against this group, but they couldn’t capitalize on their size advantage. David Blatt tried to match up by going smaller, inserting James Jones for Mozgov, but that played into Golden State’s hands. That’s a major talent drop for the Cavaliers, and Jones isn’t quick enough to keep up, anyway.

Unlike many small lineups, the Warriors don’t sacrifice defense for offense. The Cavaliers’ only overtime points came on this LeBron pity bucket:


Kevin Pelton of ESPN argues the game didn’t swing because of Golden State’s small lineup, but because of Irving’s injury costing the Cavaliers during a crucial defensive possession.

On the most pivotal play during small ball – Harrison Barnes’ corner 3 (starts 40 seconds into the Green highlight video above) – the Warriors were playing 5-on-4 because Irving couldn’t move. Pelton argues Cleveland, with a foul to give, should have hacked the Warriors to stop the game and get out Irving. Barnes’ open triple was due more to that numbers advantage than a size mismatch.

And that’s true.

But why didn’t the Cavaliers make the correct call to foul?

I’d argue they were too busy scrambling to keep up with Golden State’s up-tempo attack to realize they should have fouled. They just got matched up defensively and had a moment to catch their breaths when Barnes hit the shot.

With Green at center, the Warriors go quickly and pressure opponents into quick decisions.

The Cavaliers, already in a bad spot due to their injury misfortune, couldn’t handle it. Maybe they would have fared better against small ball without that possession. Or maybe they would have fouled if Golden State weren’t pushing the pace.

But the Warriors weren’t waiting to find out.

They’re going to play Green at center and show no mercy.

David Lee expects Warriors to try trading him this offseason

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

When a report emerged two years ago about the Warriors trying to trade David Lee, the forward said that wasn’t the case.

Golden State reportedly tried harder to trade Lee last year.

Now, he has wised up.

Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:

Lee, on the books for $15.4 million in 2015-16 as the final installment of a six-year, $80-million deal as part of a sign-and-trade with the Knicks, knows they will try to trade him.

“I think they tried to trade me the last two years, didn’t they?” he told NBA.com.

“That’s nothing new,” he said of preparing to be traded. “But once again, what’s kind of predicted and what ends up happening is not always the same thing. We’ll just see what happens. I love it here. We have accomplished a lot here. We’ll see once the season’s over. The most important thing, though, is getting this ring first and then worrying about that later.”

Lee is right. Though he has handled his demotion this season with class and provides solid insurance behind the team’s rotation players, Golden State will try to trade him.

The financials mandate it.

Let’s say – perhaps generously – the Warriors decline Marreese Speight’s team option, and Brandon Rush declines his player option. Add a max contract for Draymond Green, the standard 120 percent of scale for the No. 30 pick and four minimum contracts to fill the roster.

Using data from Basketball Insiders and the projected luxury-tax line, that’d give Golden State a payroll of $136,078,768 –$99,124,416  in salary and$36,954,352 luxury-tax payments.

Remove Lee, and it drops to $86,676,840 –$83,630,736 in salary and$3,046,104 in luxury-tax payments.

The Warriors don’t use Lee much, anyway. They sure don’t want to pay nearly $50 million to keep him next season.

But they want to keep Green, which means working hard to find a new home for Lee.