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

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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.

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Game Lineup Minutes Plus-minus
1

 

Green at center 4 6
Other 49 2
2

 

Green at center 17 6
Other 36 -8
3

 

Green at center 0 -4
Other 48 -1
4

 

Green at center 27 17
Other 21 6
5

 

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.