The Warriors Dominated the Mavs With a Really, Really Small Lineup—and Charles Barkley Hated It

In Friday’s Hot Clicks: the Warriors kill the Mavericks with small ball, questions about the proposed NBA All-Star Game and more.
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Death Lineup 3.0

Steve Kerr and the Warriors can be credited with starting the current small-ball revolution in the NBA. Golden State’s so-called “Death Lineup” of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes (later Kevin Durant) was the team’s most dominant fivesome during its 73–9 season. The center-less lineup wasn’t the Warriors’ primary grouping, though. It was a change of pace meant to throw opponents off balance.

But on Thursday against the Mavericks, the Warriors made the whole plane out of the black box and went small for all 48 minutes. And they crushed Dallas.

The Warriors already have a small roster, with only two centers (7-foot rookie James Wiseman and the 6' 9" Kevon Looney) to complement under-sized power forwards Draymond Green and Eric Paschall (both listed at 6' 6"). With Wiseman and Looney both out injured, the Warriors are going to have to play at least a week’s worth of games without a big man.

So on Thursday night in Dallas, the Warriors started a lineup of Green, Stephen Curry (6' 3"), Kelly Oubre (6' 7"), Juan Toscano-Anderson (6' 6") and Andrew Wiggins (6' 7"). The Mavs countered by going big with Luka Dončić (6' 7"), Josh Richardson (6' 5"), Dorian Finney-Smith (6' 7"), Maxi Kleber (6' 10") and Kristaps Porziņģis (7' 3").

The size discrepancy was hardly a disadvantage for the Warriors. Not only did they cruise to a 147–116 win, they even won the rebounding battle. Golden State collected 45 rebounds; Dallas, with three 7-footers, grabbed 42.

After the first half ended 76–74, Charles Barkley was disgusted by what he saw. The Mavs, the team with the worst three-point percentage in the whole league, were forced to play from the perimeter. More than half of their shots in the first half (29 out of 45) were threes. Barkley called it “stupid-ass basketball.”

Dallas got the three balls to fall in the first half, shooting 51.7% from deep, but the luck ran out in the second half and the Mavs made just five of 21 attempts (23.8%).

The Warriors, meanwhile, benefited from lights-out performances from Oubre, who had a career-high 40 points, and Green, who had 15 assists.

We’ll see if the Mavs can find another way to deal with the small lineup when these two teams play again on Saturday. 

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