As of this writing, the Warriors are up 2-0 in their first round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. The Warriors for the first quarter and a half of their last game versus the Nuggets, were losing by a decent margin. But around the midpoint of the second quarter, the momentum change was palpable as the Dubs strung together multiple stifling defensive possessions and started to rain in three bombs from the behind the arc to give themselves the lead going into the half. And once they got in head, they didn't look back, rolling along to the final buzzer and blowing the Nuggets out by 20. What caused the sudden shift in the second quarter you may ask? Well, it was the small ball lineup Steve Kerr put out there, a brand of basketball the Warriors have pioneered since 2014. To be clear, the Warriors aren't the first team to play small ball, but they certainly legitimized the strategy by winning championships with it. I won't get into what small ball is because that would take too long for me to accurately explain (perhaps a subject for me to write about in the future). The main thing you need to know is that the Warriors' use of it throughout the past 8 years has been extraordinarily effective and it has changed the landscape of the NBA. In the early years of the Warriors extremely effective use of small ball, it was called the "Death Lineup"; this lineup consisted of Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green as the anchor. Fast forward a couple of years to the Warriors signing of Kevin Durant and they invent an even deadlier form of the small ball lineup with it consisting of Curry, Klay, Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and lastly Draymond Green once again as the anchor. This notorious version of the Warrior's small ball lineup that devastated other teams was called: "The Hampton Five". It was labeled so because Curry, Klay, Dray, and Iguodala all went to the Hamptons in the 2016 offseason to meet with Kevin Durant and persuade him to sign with the Warriors. Now, once again fast forward, but to today where the Warriors seem to have found another deadly small ball lineup, accredited by the group's amazing success against the Nuggets a few nights ago. This lineup has 3 constants from the past in Curry, Klay, and Dray, but now includes Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. This brings us to the dilemma: What are we to call the Warriors' new "Death" lineup? I've seen people on the internet call it "PTSD", where the P stands for Poole, the T for Thompson, the S for Steph, the D for Draymond. However, this nickname leaves out a valuable part of the lineup, Andrew Wiggins. I've also heard people call it the "furious five" or "flamethrower five" (the latter is what a Warriors commentator referred to it as) but these nicknames hold no special meaning; you can call any dominant lineup in the history of basketball these things, they have nothing to do with the Warriors particularly. Seeing all of these disappointing nicknames spurred me to think of some myself, so on 4/20 while other people are blazing up...well you know, I was blazing up creative ideas. At first I thought of "Run-TPC", which is a reference to the fantastic Warriors' 3-man trio of Chris Mullin, Mitch Ritchmond, and Tim Hardaway in the 90's a.k.a "Run-TMC". Their nickname was inspired by the famous musical group "Run-DMC". I gave up on this idea because 1) It strays too far away from the original reference of "Run-DMC". 2) It only encompasses 3 players in the line up--"Run-TPC"--where T stands for Thompson, P for Poole, and C for Curry. I wanted a nickname that applied to all 5 guys that make the lineup so lethal. With music still in mind, just not "Run-DMC", I came up with my official nickname for this new Warriors small ball lineup: "Pack Dre".
"Pack Dre". Let me explain why this is perfect. First of all, it is exclusively for the Golden State Warriors with each letter representing a player in the Warriors new small ball lineup. The first letter, p, stands for Jordan Poole, the second letter, a, stands for Andrew Wiggins, the third letter, c, stands for Stephen Curry, the fourth letter, k, stands for Klay Thompson, and Dre at the end is obviously for Draymond Green. The nickname also pays homage to legendary bay area hip-hop artist: "Mac Dre", the edited photo above is one of his album covers. It also makes sense..."Pack", like a group, which in this case is a lineup of 5 players.
I tweeted my nickname idea for the Warriors lineup and "Mike Herring" (he's verified with the checkmark, meaning its actually him) apparently liked it and he's a CFO, so that has weirdly given me great feelings of validation. Anyways, if it doesn't catch on immediately, I'm gonna keep using it until it does. So when you start hearing it on ESPN, just know you heard it first, from none other than whom the brainchild was conceived.
Just as it seemed the Warriors were finally overcoming years of being injury riddled-- in fact, James Wiseman, Draymond Green, Iguodala, and GP2 coming back was the main topic of my last article--the Dubs suffered some sizable blows. First and foremost, Curry suffered a sprained left ankle on March 17 vs. the Celtics which will sideline him until at least the beginning of the playoffs. But, I suppose a positive takeaway from this is that Curry can be rest assured in not having to purchase a 23andMe test to find out if he has Irish heritage, as we can accurately assess from him getting hurt on St. Patrick's day that he is without the luck of the Irish. On a more serious note however, this injury is just one of the many factors negatively affecting the Warriors chances of contending for the chip. It puts Curry and the Warriors in an even more uncomfortable position going into the playoffs, most notably because the lack of having Curry to close out the regular season gives the big 3 of Steph, Klay, and Dray a combined total of merely 11 minutes played together this season. And we know from years prior that when a team's best players don't get sufficient time to gel and build on-court cohesion, playoff success is hard to come by. Take for example the 2011 Miami Heat, who are sometimes accredited with creating the league's first super team after Chris Bosh and LeBron James signed with them to accompany Dwyane Wade. Even though their big 3 of LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all played 70+ games that season; the heavily championship favored Heat lost in the finals to an underdog Dallas Mavericks team, largely because the trio had still not yet built that synergy together on the court.
An even more recent example is the 2020 L.A Clippers. This was one of the best teams to ever be put together in terms of having everything you would want in a championship team. For instance, if you needed defense, you had one of the most defensively-tenacious guards to ever play the game in Patrick Beverley, along with Paul George who was top 3 in Defensive Player of the Year voting in the previous season, and if that didn't make opponent's sh*t their pants enough, they also acquired Kawhi Leonard who is one of the greatest defensive players of all time, accredited by his winning Defensive Player of the Year 2 times along with numerous other defensive accolades. If you needed offense, again you had Paul George, one of the greatest scorers of our generation and a top 3 MVP candidate the previous year. You had, again, Kawhi Leonard, who was coming off hitting one of the greatest shots in NBA history, and who's resume on the offensive end speaks for its-self. But, you also had a solid core of guys including Lou Williams to come off the bench and get you 20+ points consistently. Speaking of Lou Williams, the Clippers bench was seen as impeccable because you had one of the greatest sixth men ever in Lou Williams, a silky-smooth scorer who had accrued 3 Sixth Man of the Year awards up to that point, along with Montrezl Harrell who ended up winning Sixth Man of the Year in that 2020 season. Most importantly though, they had Paul George and Kawhi Leonard who, generally speaking, were/are two superstar talents accustomed to winning that could lead this team to the promised land. They also had one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time in Doc Rivers, however I think you get the point...this team had it all. With all this in mind, you might be saying to yourself: "they must've won the championship surely". And...that's how most basketball fans felt, including myself. However, this was a good lesson on how different a team can look on the court versus how they can look on paper. It wasn't that this team was bad, because they were certainly good, finishing 2nd in the Western Conference standings that year. It was that during the regular season their two superstars took turns-almost in playing in games, one night Kawhi Leonard would play and George wouldn't, and the next George would lead the team into battle and Kawhi would be sitting on the bench in street clothes (this sequence might be a tad big exaggerated but for the most part this is what happened, they didn't play together really). This was all fine and good for the regular season, but once the playoffs came around, their lack of not playing together and the rest of the team not being used to lineups with George and Leonard together bit them in the butt as the two superstars' and the teams' lack of cohesion resulted in an early second-round exit, mightily disappointing for a team that was thought to be the championship favorites by many.
I may have rambled on a little longer than I should've regarding the Clippers, but I wanted to hammer in the point that lack of cohesion among a team's top guys can be detrimental. With that in mind that is why I am fearful about this Curry injury and the Warriors big 3 only playing roughly 11 minutes together this whole season. I've heard some people make their predictions and destine the Warriors to make it decently far in the playoffs because Curry is probably gonna come back. But even assuming he does come back, I wouldn't be surprised if this team has an early exit in the first or second round, mainly because we haven't seen Draymond, Curry, and Klay play together for more than 15 minutes which, needless to say, worsens the overall team cohesion. There are other factors that weaken the Warriors' finals chances, but that topic is for another time. Another piece of bad news is that James Wiseman had some complications with his injury return and before he could suit up for the Dubs, was ruled out for the rest of the season. Therefore, we won't see the young, star big-man 'til next season.
Some good news though is Andre Iguodala returned from his injury just last game versus Memphis, who won 8 of their last 10 going into the match. Iguodala got booed when he checked in and every time he touched the ball throughout the game. I actually didn't remember until I heard the boos that Iguodala sort of did Memphis dirty a couple of years ago. Back in June of 2019, when the Warriors were coming off a finals loss and in the midst of losing Kevin Durant, seemingly an end to their dynasty, the Warriors traded Iguodala to Memphis but he refused to play for them conceivably because he didn't want to be there and at the time they were a mediocre to average team. It was a pretty bada** moment though when he checked in and while being thunderously booed, he sank a clean corner three-ball. The Warriors lost this game to the grizzlies, granted the Dubs were without Klay, Steph, and Dray, however Memphis was missing their key guys as well so this was more likely than not a win the Warriors should of came away with. It was a blowout since the second quarter when the Warriors couldn't buy a bucket. And on the other side of the ball, Dillion Brooks turned into Dillion Cooks and hit shot after shot, getting multiple and-one buckets that further demoralized the Warriors. To make matters worse, Steve Kerr got ejected at halftime for furiously yelling at the refs for what he perceived as a miscall. In the third quarter, we were offered a glimmer of hope for a chance of a comeback when Jordan Poole scored 8 straight points, but then acting head coach Mike Brown (took over after Kerr was ejected) took JP out of the game, a questionable move after Poole sparked some life in the Warriors offense. So, the Warriors end up defeated with their losing streak currently sitting at 3. And it looks like it will increase to 4, as their next game is against the best team in the league, the Phoenix Suns, tomorrow. Klay and Draymond should be back in the lineup however, so they are by no means doomed.
Hey Alexa, play "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy! Warriors all-star and defensive anchor Draymond Green made his return to play after 2 months of being out with lower-back problems; meaning for the first time in 1005 days, we were fortunate enough to witness Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green play together. A little irony to Draymond's injury was that it happened on Klay Day, the game Klay Thompson made his return after missing two seasons due to injuries. Right before that tip-off on January 9th, in which all basketball fans were anticipating seeing the big 3 on the floor together with Klay returning, Dray experieced calf-tightness and couldn't play. The day, long overdue, for Klay to bounce back from injuries, was the same one in which Draymond would start his two months of being on the sideline. Regardless though, we're here, with 13 games left, the big 3 is back. Dray made his return last game on March 14th with the Dubs vs. a lottery bound Wizards team, a team missing their franchise cornerstone player due to injury, Bradley Beal. Draymond came off the bench in his return, a rare sight considering he has started every game he has played in since the 2014 playoffs, back when David Lee occupied the starting 4-spot. Dray looked okay this game. To be fair I don't think anyone expected a big game from him, for one he's never been one to put up big stats, but also, it's his first game in two months. I must say that Draymond had a few sloppy turnovers, but every hooper knows that those little mishaps happen when you havn't played in real game for a while, as the case with Dray. I'm gonna chalk these crappy turnover up to missed time, and give Dray the benefit of the doubt that those won't be happening as he continues to get his legs under him. As if this day wasn't special enough...it was also Stephen Curry's birthday; he turned 34. But, almost as if he was on a mission to prove age is really, just a number, Curry dropped 47 points this game and singlehandedly closed the game out--hitting a 3 late in the 4th, then getting an and-one bucket the very next possession.
Let me take yall back man....to just a few days ago, March 10th. The Warriors getting their revenge on Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets committing a decent amount of the turnovers (11) and the Warriors captializing off those mistakes, scoring 26 points off those TO's by Denver. Curry quietly had a great game, scoring the most of any player on both teams this game with 34 points. As you can see in the image above, it was a crunch time run that brought the Warriors the win, specifically a dazzling finale by the third splash bro, Jordan Poole. He finished the game with 21, continuing his recent streak of 20+ point games. He cashed in 2 threes, in back to back possesion with just under a minute left to push the Warriors lead to a comfortable 8 points, thereby putting the nail in the coffin for the Nuggets and securing a Warriors win.
Speaking of Jordan Poole... Kerr finally decided to start him in the past two battles against the Bucks and Wizards. Granted, he's only going to start while Draymond works his way back into game-shape, but, nonetheless, I applaud Kerr's rewarding Poole for his stellar play; play that has consisted of 7 consecutive games with 20+ points, notching 32 & 30 twice within that span.
The Warriors got the best of the defending champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, a few nights ago, snapping the Buck's 6 game win-streak. I don't mean to make this blog all about Jordan Poole, but Milwaukee is actually his hometown...I don't know, food for thought I guess. Anyways, this was one of my favorite games all season. Even though the Warriors were without Draymond, GPII, and a few other key pieces, as they have been missing important dudes all season, they still managed to beat a high-powered Bucks team. Not only did they win, but in my personal opinion, the Dubs had their greatest offensive performance since KD was on the team. The stats may not back me up on this as their offensive rating this game was 128 and they didn't score an absurd amount of points (score 122-109). But, it just felt like they were in such a an effortless groove on the offensive side of the floor, finding eachother with passes so well and seemingly never missing a shot. And, oh my god #11 on the Warriors. Science says clay isn't flammable but I'll be damned Klay Thompson caught fire this game. I havn't felt this degree of ecstasy over a basketball performance since...it's been too long. Klay started off sluggish in the first quarter going 2 for 5 on his shots, raking in a measly 4 points, but then, boom! In the second quarter, my man Klay came out guns blazing with 5 threes on 6 attempts (hyper effecient), scoring 17 points in the quarter. Klay finished the game strong with a respectable second half, ending with a season-high 38 points for the game. There's another reason the title of this article is "The Boys Are Back In Town". This was a much needed game for Klay, along with the rest of the basketball world. Because, I, along with others, will admit that up until this game it felt like maybe Poole should start over Klay. Some people were even replacing Klay with Poole, to be alongside Curry in the splash bros duo. But no, Klay proved that he still has that juice post-injuries and he can certainly return to all-star form.
Remember how I said this offensive outing from the Warriors felt like their best since the KD days. Well Jordan Poole dropped 30 points and had over 5 dimes & 5 rebounds along with Klay, making them the first Warriors duo to do so since KD and Curry in 2018.
After beating the Clippers, Nuggets, Bucks, and Wizards in 4 consecutive wins. The Warriors are going into tonights matchup against Boston on fire. However, the Celtics aren't playing around either, they have won 5 of their last 6, a run spearheaded by Jayson Tatum averaging 37 points in those 6 games. A Warriors win tonight would be nothing short of impressive, it's going to take a tremendous effort on defense by the team as whole for them to pull it out though. With that said, I am more confident in the Dub's defense now that Draymond is back and can lead the way on that side of the floor. On a sillier note, the Dubs gotta be careful because in the spirit of St. Patricks Day tomorrow, a Celtics win feels even more likely than usual tonight. Closing here, Warriors fans can be excited for the return, within the coming week, of James Wiseman; the young big man with such extraordinary potential that it makes you foam at the mouth. Coming off his big injury, he's been getting reps in the g-league recently and will surely be brought up soon so he can get some NBA minutes before the Warriors head into the playoffs. As there is only 13 games left until the playoffs, and Warriors GM Bob Myers has recently said: "It's not fair to [Wiseman] or his teammates to just throw him in a playoff game. I don't think that would be a good idea. So, we're probably getting closer [to his return]". We can certainly expect Wiseman to make his NBA return with the Warriors very soon.
The wounded Warriors snapped their 5 game losing streak tonight with a dominant win over an even more wounded L.A Clippers squad. The Clippers missing, most notably, their two superstar players: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Nevertheless, a win is a win and the Warriors needed one badly. My last post talked about the Warriors when they were on a mere 2 game losing streak, and after that they proceeded to lose the next 3. In the third game of that losing streak, they were defeated in their rematch against the Mavericks (score: 113-122) where Luka dropped a cool 41 points. The main takeaway of that game for me was the lack of defense. Even with the team's defensive anchor Draymond Green missing, the defense should not look as bad as it does, especially this specific game. A couple bright spots though were: 1) Jordan Poole breaking his slump this game, scoring 23 off the bench. 2) Moses Moody breaking out with 14 points in the 4th quarter. The Warriors in the 4th game of their losing streak looked like they were going to pull off a win against a struggling, Anthony Davis-less Lakers team...that is, until the 4th and final quarter when non-other than the GOAT himself, LeBron James, took over and wielded his team to a comeback victory (score: 116-124). LeBron scored a season-high 56 points this game! Now, pause for a second, if Luka scoring 40+ against the Warriors one game and then LeBron scoring 56 against them in the next doesn't show how bad the Dubs defense has been as of late, then I don't know what does. In my opinion, the Warriors truly had this game in the bag, despite LBJ catching fire, but they opted to get a little careless with the turnovers and shot selection. Then in the 5th game of their losing streak the Warriors traveled up to a highly elevated city (Denver), to take on a highly elevated team, the Nuggets (won 9 of their last 10). Golden State played this game without more than half of their team; Curry, Wiggins, Klay, Dray, Wiseman, Payton II, Porter Jr, and Iguadala were all out. And even though the Dubs looked extremely overmatched, only having a 9 man rotation and playing such a hot team. The Warriors stayed with it. This was mostly due to Denver committing a bunch of careless turnovers and players such as Poole and Moses Moody shooting red hot for most of the game. It was clear the Warriors didn't come into the game expecting to have a chance as they played pretty sloppy themselves and Denver ended up winning, Jokic posting a triple double and further solidifying his bid for MVP. I thoroughly enjoyed this game despite the loss because I had the pleasure of witnessing the breakout game of rookie Moses Moody. That man is a problem. Period. End of story. He scored a career high in this game, 30 points, and along with the 14 points in the 4th quarter against the Mavericks a few nights before, I am officially buying his imaginary stock. Poole also had 31 points this night and while its great to see these two young talented players show out in a way that you can confidently say isn't due to luck, it still makes me worry a bit about how the future looks. To me, it can only go three ways for Poole and Moody. They continue to come off the bench, and occasionally start, as guard/wing peices, and they are still able to shine and be the players they can be while in that role and contributing to the success of the Warriors in the now. Or, they continue to find their role as bench/occasional starters at the guard/wing spots for the Warriors, but their potentials are stifled because their roles have confined them. Or, lastly, they become disgruntled with their roles in Golden State and decide they want to go to another team where they have more oppertunity to shine. Of course, I would love for them to stay with the Warriors while also reaching their full potential. But, as a basketball junky, I know that isn't usually how it plays out. Who knows though! The Warriors are a fabulous organization all around and maybe this doesn't evolve into anything. One thing I know for sure though is, however Kerr manages these minutes, egos, budding potentials, and roles, is what will define him as a coach.
This brings us to the good news! On March 8th, 2022, the Warriors won their first game after 5 straight losses. As I mentioned briefly before, one of the biggest problems plaguing the Dubs recently has been their defense. But tonight they held the Clippers to just 36 points in the first half. Watching this game though, I can't sincerely tell you that this absymal scoring by the Clippers was due to any improvement in the Warriors defense. I don't think the Clippers could of put the ball in the basket tonight if they were playing against a 5th grade CYO team.
Jackie Mooooooooon showed up pre-game. I think this is one of the things that reveals Steve Kerr's brilliance as a coach. With Klay Thompson still struggling after his post-injuries return and the Warriors on a 5 game losing skid, Kerr bringing in Will Ferrell (Jackie Moon, one of Klay's favorite fictional characters) for a strange pre-game warmups, I think warrants Kerr an even greater share of the credit for the Warriors win. As a huge believer in the impact that psyche has on a team's winning, I think Kerr doing this for Klay (who proceeded to drop 20 points), and the team is a very under-appreciated move. Even Curry, when asked about having Will Ferrell in pre-game, said: "I think we fed off the energy". On a final note, I would like to shout out Poole, for his recent streak of great games, but also his 20 points tonight. Also, Kuminga's 20-bomb tonight. Get excited Warriors fans because Wiseman and Green are set to return in the coming days now!
Jordan Poole's face in the above photo says it all...the Warriors are struggling right now. They have accrued just 4 wins in their last 10; a feat impressive if your goals are set for the first pick in the draft, but abysmal for a team competing for a championship, as the Warriors are. Despite these recent struggles, they are still clinging to the 2nd spot in the West, just above a soaring Ja Morant led Memphis Grizzlies team that is threatening to pass the Warriors any day now in the standings. The Warriors went limping into all-star weekend with two consecutive losses. And, for those of you that aren't as familiar with the NBA, All-Star weekend, besides being packed with fabulous spectacle and exciting events(the 3-point contest, Dunk Contest, Skills challenge, All-Star Game, and etc.), also serves the purpose of being a much needed break for the players and teams caught in a long and grinding NBA season to rest, refocus, and re-energize.
With that in mind, many others, as well as myself, believed the Warriors just needed the rest that comes with the All-Star break to be rejuvenated and look like championship contenders as they have most of the season. And for a brief amount of time, this prediction seemingly came to fruition. The Dubs (a.k.a Warriors) came out their first game post all-star break with a dominating win over the Portland Trail Blazers (score: 132-95). And then a few days later in their next game jumped out to a convincing lead of more than 20 points against the Dallas Mavericks. It was at this point with the Dubs up big for the second game in a row, where my spoiled self thought: "Come on Dallas, make this game interesting". *Sigh. Boy do I regret that wish I silently uttered to myself because not only did the Mavericks close in on that gaping lead to make the game interesting...they ended up completing the upset and squeezing by with the win (score: 107-101). As a fan I was completely demoralized, primarily because the momentum the team had been building up that was so incredibly palpable was now dead.
The obvious answer for the Dubs loss was their atrocious offense in the 2nd half, where at one point they went more than 4 minutes without scoring. But I saw something different; I saw the almighty, legendary coach Steve Kerr, mess up the rotation, most importantly Jordan Poole's minutes. What's that saying? "It's not the years in your life, it's the life in your years". Well it's in this spirit I think Kerr messed up with Poole because while I can't give you exact time stamps , it just seemed as though Poole's minutes were way too staggered, preventing the smooth young guard from garnering rhythm. I think Poole should of seen more consecutive minutes because I firmly believe that if he was given that against the Mavericks, the Warriors would have gained his scoring punch, which ultimately would of saved them from that horrendous scoring drought and loss.
The image you see above is a tweet I made during the game. One thing I've observed with Klay coming back is that Poole's role has been totally redefined. Earlier this season when Klay was still injured Poole found success in the starting shooting guard spot, seemingly with the green light to take any shot he wants. This early season role bolstered Poole's confidence and rhythm, proving successful for both the team and Poole as he was an early favorite for Most Improved Player and the Warriors were the best team in league, record wise, for a couple months. But now with Klay back to take the starting shooting guard spot, moving Poole to the bench, his role has been lessened to strictly an off-the-bench scoring spark plug. Even in recent games with Klay out, such as against Dallas and the Timberwolves, Kerr opted to bring Poole off the bench because that is the role he is going to have for, presumably, the rest of the season. This has obviously shaken Poole's confidence as his play has been mediocre as of late (16 combined points his last two games) and he has seemed a little disgruntled. For instance, the picture of Poole at the beginning of this article is from an interview conducted with him after Tuesday's loss to the Timberwolves where his responses carried a subtle tone of frustration. With all that said, there are some other factors I didn't talk about, like Kuminga's lousy play of recent, Draymond's prolonged absence, Klay's short absence, and of course, James Wiseman's absence. All of these factors certainly play big parts in the Warriors recent struggles, some more than others. But with all 3 of those players (Wiseman, Green, and Klay) returning in the coming weeks, the Warriors biggest challenges to figure out before playoff time are: 1) Balancing the Poole-Klay minutes 2) Making sure Poole has sufficient opportunity to get rhythm and grow 3) Building sufficient and stable cohesiveness on the court when Wiseman returns after being out all season. Lastly, I'm excited to see how the Warriors rebound from their two painful previous losses. Next, they are playing the Mavericks once again; will they get revenge?
19 Years Old, Hoops Fanatic, Knowledgeable in everything Warriors.