Small lineup is Warriors’ devastating trump card

VIDEO: How the Warriors’ small-ball offense works

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — We knew the Golden State Warriors were going to get back into the game Thursday night. It was just a matter of whether or not the Los Angeles Clippers, a pretty good team in their own right, could hold on after leading by as many as 23 points in the second quarter.

But Luke Walton went to his trump card a little earlier than usual and the Clippers were toast.

The trump card is a lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. With five shooters on the floor, the Warriors spread you out and slice you up offensively. And they use their length and quickness to switch everything and not give up much on the other end of the floor.

The Warriors typically don’t use the super-small lineup early in games. Of the 48 minutes its played this season, only 16 have come before the fourth quarter. It’s kind of like Mariano Rivera, if Mariano Rivera was not only a lights-out closer, but also a .750 hitter who gets to bat in every spot of the order.

With 5:41 left to go in Thursday’s game, Barnes checked in for Festus Ezeli and the lineup was in place. The Clippers were still up by 10 points at that point.

But on the super-small lineup’s first possession, Curry hit a three. Paul Pierce answered, but the Clippers couldn’t keep up with the Warriors when they proceeded to make six of their next seven shots, with five of the six coming from 3-point range.

The super-small lineup outscored the Clippers 25-8 in that final 5:41 to keep the Warriors unbeaten and the Clippers on the wrong side of a one-sided rivalry.

Here’s the boxscore from the final 5:41. The Warriors shot 2-for-2 on twos, 5-for-6 on threes, and 6-for-6 on free throws. They recorded assists on all seven of their buckets.

That’s ridiculous, but it’s not too far off from the norm. That lineup has played 48 total minutes this season and has outscored its opponents 164-104 in those 48 minutes, shooting 23-for-38 (61 percent) from 3-point range, with assists on 73 percent of its field goals.


The Warriors are the best team in the league, by far. And the lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes and Green is the best the Warriors have to offer.

Walton is going to the lineup more often than Steve Kerr did. It only played 102 minutes in 37 games in the regular season last year. But Kerr did go to it a lot more frequently in the playoffs, when it logged 111 minutes over 16 of the Warriors’ 21 postseason games.

The lineup has been ridiculously successful no matter who the coach has been. It’s the Warriors’ trump card and it’s near impossible to stop.


VIDEO: Warriors’ Huge Fourth Quarter


  1. bantusports says:

    The Warriors are invincible at the moment and they’re playing terrific basketball but they have deviated from what saw them through to the end last season. Players like Steph Curry are getting more minutes, which is great for us fans, but it’s still really early in the season and if they carry on at the same rate:
    1. Someone will finally figure out a way to contain them, and/or
    2. They won’t have as much left in the tank come playoff time, one of the things that helped last season
    Whatever happens they’re an awesome team and I guess only time will tell the rest

  2. Foxtrot Bravo says:

    There is much grumbling and gnashing of teeth amongst not just the Dubs opposition players, coaches and fans but also a few of the talking heads who refuse to believe their eyes. The key to this team is their unrelenting selflessness. They are averaging 30 dimes per game! Their ball movement is a thing of beauty that can and likely will get better. They already are a ton better than last year. Barnes has come completely out of his shell. He is in attack mode and his ball handling is so much better now. Klay is getting his health back and Draymond and Andre are Swiss Army knives. Steph is just the ultimate weapon. The Clips threw everything at him Charles Barkley whined about being physical and denying him the open 3. He still dropped 40 on them!

  3. hubbie says:

    just to correct the comment, the 72 lakers did win the nba title the year in which they won 33 straight games

  4. bu says:

    Most teams were not setup to play super small ball with 6-7 to 6-9 guys and play great D, while can shoot lights out. However, teams will adjust and learn how to defend this line up they have. This is quite apparent on some bigger moves we saw in off season with Pacers & Celtics so they can go big (not big like Griz) or small depending opponents.

    Walton uses it more may mean he has less suitable lineups to choose from and resort to this line up to keep winning while Kerr was out. This is actually NOT good for the warriors bec it lets team get used to this line up, and doesn’t proper use the full rotation & rest players. Curry & some key players should be well preserved & rested and pace into the playoffs.

    • John Cena says:

      In reply to your comment, no one can guard Curry. Plus, how can you adjust when the ball keeps moving? Eventually, the ball will find the open man. The lineup is all around tremendous, both offensively and defensively with Draymomd and Andre being outstanding defenders. Also, Curry’s early in this season. He’s playing a bit too much, especially considering all their games have been wins by a pretty wide margin, but it’s a bit too early to worry about that. I mean, he’s the best player on the Warriors, possibly the greatest shooter ever and the best in this league. But I think that Golden State should play Ian Clark some more minutes in those fourth quarter blowout games, instead of Curry. I’d like to see McAdoo instead of Green in the fourth quarter too, but who knows, I’m not Luke Walton or Steve Kerr. I would say though that in games against Brooklyn, the Clippers, Chicago, and I think about one or two more, the whole game would be decided in the fourth, and that’s when Golden State had their good lineup in to need to pull away. Also, it’s not bad for Golden State, every team has their best lineup, but they always have a solid backup lineup. Livingston and Barbosa (or Clark) would make a good backcourt, then you could put Speights at the four, Bogut or Ezeli at the five, and Brandon Rush at the three. That lineup’s not bad. Heck, it’s probably better than Philadelphia’s starting lineup if not for Okafor. Additionally, they’re doing this with a coach that has little experience. Once Steve comes back, he’ll handle the lineups, which will probably work and find the Curry-Thompson-Barnes-Iguodala-Green lineup a rest at some point. Honestly, it’s too early to find the downsides in a team when they’re undefeated. They have great defense and great offense. Last year, they were the best offensive and defensive team statistically speaking. They’re a well put together team that a couple years ago, was a horrible team trying to fight to the top. And all this talk about anyone slowing them down is because of the Bulls record of 72-10. But in reality, all that really matters is a championship, and for the Dubs, nobody, not even Cleveland or the aging Spurs, can stop them. The Spurs era just ended. The Lakers and Celtics have a long way back to the top. Teams can stop GSW, but not from the ultimate goal. This is the Warriors era, and you can’t deny that fact. Golden State will be good for a long time. Curry is young. Thompson is young. Barnes is young. So is Green. Unless this team becomes a running joke on injury memes, this team is unstoppable. It’s scary, because they broke a record and are undefeated with Luke Walton, who doesn’t have much experience, as I mentioned earlier. Imagine what they do with Kerr. They have a chance to break 72-10, 33 straight games if you look at their schedule. But now that they have the record for most wins to begin a campaign, they should take it a game at a time and calm down. Bad for the Warriors? Please. It’s not going to be bad going into the playoffs. Every great player plays extended minutes. That included Kobe (when he was good), LeBron, MJ, all those greats. They earned those minutes. And signs of fatigue on the court will help lose some too. He doesn’t show signs of fatigue, so he plays extended minutes. If you know anything about baseball, it’s like getting worried about Clayton Kershaw’s pitch count after thirty pitches. In the eighties, they didn’t even have pitch counts. Fatigue is everything in sports, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing wrong with playing your best player or lineup extended minutes. He’s probably not even tired after the Laker game. He’s probably well rested. I’m a take a quote many of you may know about if you ever went to the ninth inning of a game at Dodger Stadium in the early-mid 2000’s. When [Stephen Curry] comes in, it’s game over. HAVE A SPEEDY RECOVERY STEVE KERR!

  5. TheStatistician says:

    Sorry Warriors, but there is a group outthere that is even better. Im talking, of course, about the Mavs….no really, the Mavs!!!!!!!
    The lineup Dirk-Zaza-DeronWilliams-RaymondFelton-WesMatthews is leading the league this season.
    Their netRtg per 100 possesions is +31,5 !!!!!
    They also lead the league in offRtg with 131,5 points per 100 possesions.

    Thank you DeAndre, thank you for changing your mind. Cuban said it, sometimes the best deals are those that you dont make.

  6. pcarltock says:

    In NBA history there have been dozens of longer win streaks and dozens of teams, including the 71-72 LA Lakers who won the most games ever in a row, (33, 3 times what the Warriors have so far) and they didn’t win the Title.
    We are only in the first eighth of the season, everything change between now and April.

  7. jD says:

    The Warriors are very very good. They inflict their will and are truly unselfish. Cleveland, San Antonio and OK City can beat them, IF they are as committed as the Warriors

  8. It is obvious that they can be defeated- as they were defeated last year a bit. But this team is frightfully dangerous.

  9. b7m says:

    Steph Curry is the best player in the world. Period. Poor Chris will retire without single ring…

  10. cuttyplease says:

    One of the most skilled, versatile and entertaining to watch lineups in NBA history.

  11. courtsideguy says:

    apart from the spurs, maybe possibly the cavs…who can honestly beat the warriors? The only team that can beat the warriors are the warriors. I was very sure that the clipps would win this game. Boy was I wrong. This team is insanely dangerous.