Tag: David Lee

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.

2015 NBA Finals: No bigs allowed

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:

“It’s not a series for bigs.”

The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):


And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.

This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:


Game 5 took small ball to another level.

Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).

The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.

Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.

In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:


Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.

The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.

Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?

Andre Iguodala dishes tight behind-the-back assists to David Lee (video)

Andre Iguodala
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Andre Iguodala hasn’t made the same impact he did in Game 3.

The Warriors forward has yet to score, and he hasn’t spent quite as much time guarding LeBron James, who has been playing plenty of center.

But Iguodala is versatile enough to contribute other ways – like this nifty behind-the-back pass to David Lee.