- The Warriors haven't played the Hamptons Five lineup against Houston this season. Could the conference finals be when they pull out the secret weapon?
The Golden State Warriors have largely cruised through most of the NBA playoffs, and much of that was done without Stephen Curry. Now that the Warriors are complete and the Hamptons Five is whole, how will they progress through the rest of the postseason? Will the Rockets have an answer? Can they match up with Kevin Durant? Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver discuss that issue and much more on the latest episode of Open Floor podcast.
Ben Golliver: Golden State made a lot of headlines by going to the Hamptons Five starting lineup, and they've been burying that pretty much all season long. It wasn't their most used lineup this season. They haven't used it all that much in the playoffs in part because Stephen Curry has been hurt and during the regular season they never used it against Houston. And what we always expected was when Houston added Chris Paul and they got those other wings—P.J. Tucker, being able to play him at the five--we expected them to be totally interchangeable. And Golden State, when they played Houston during the regular season, they just masked it, Andrew. They never even used that lineup.
So it does feel like it's secret weapon time for Golden State and that could be what scares me if I'm a Rockets fan. They haven't even played their best group against Houston yet this year and those games during the regular season were pretty competitive and pretty interesting. So if you're able to keep it interesting with one hand tied behind your back because you don't want to reveal your secrets, that's what would scare me if I was a Houston fan.
Andrew Sharp: It's more than that even, it's not just the lineups. We were talking about this Warriors team all year, watching Draymond and watching Iguodala and everybody was kind of in autopilot mode. And now everyone is engaged and that sort of changes the dynamics a little bit.
Golliver: I want to say here's one reason why I do think the lineup bit matters a lot, because so far during the postseason when the Hamptons Five have played together, they've outscored the Pelicans 165–111 in 54 minutes of action. So that's basically like a little bit more than a 48-minute game, and they outscored New Orleans by 54 points in 54 minutes. That's ridiculous. They're really, really clicking, and if you're Houston you match up better with that group than New Orleans did. You absolutely do because you do have more length than the Pelicans did, you have more explosive offensive players, you have more two-way guys than the Pelicans do, but you're still thinking you just have to keep it close during those minutes because that's how explosive they are and that's how versatile they are defensively too.
Sharp: Do you have a take on the Hamptons Five nickname?
Golliver: It's fine. I don't know. How about you?
Sharp: I love it. I did not like 'Death Lineup' all that much. I just thought it was kind of corny and was played out pretty quickly. But the Hamptons Five, every time I hear that used, and now it's beginning to be used on national broadcasts—which only makes it more hilarious. It's become legitimized all of sudden, and I think that happened after Steve Kerr acknowledged it at a press conference during the Pelicans series. But it just reminds me how absurd that weekend was in general, because you go back and you have Jae Crowder sitting there telling KD that the Celtics had cracked the code to the Warriors, you had Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan crammed into a hotel room with Steve Ballmer, Tom Brady was involved somehow, David Ortiz was involved somehow. It was great.
Golliver: What about Drew Bledsoe? Was he in there too?
Sharp: I don't think Bledsoe made the cut. It was before his comeback and return to public spotlight.
Golliver: You know Drew Bledsoe is sitting there during the conference finals like, 'Oh, now they want me. I was there, I was ready to be the KD closer.' The reason why I do like the Hamptons Five nickname, tho, is because I've heard a lot of analysts out there maybe kind of dismiss Kevin Durant as a role player and they say other negative things about him. Why they do this, I don't know. They love to attach his character. But the Hamptons Five nickname is a reminder that the whole thing is built around KD. He's their best all-around two-way player. They all went to the Hamptons to recruit him. I don't remember any recruiting trip for Steph Curry to re-sign this summer [laughs]. So it is nice to have KD smack-dabbed in the mix because I would say of everybody in this postseason besides LeBron, KD's had the best postseason.
Sharp: He has. He also has not had a difficult matchup yet. I think that's part of the thing with the Warriors. They are so good at seeking out mismatches and it's part of what has made them so dominate over the last three years, in addition to defensive and Steph and literally everything. You could pick out five different things that the Warriors are the best at, but one of the things they're great at is being very disciplined about finding the mismatch on the court and exploiting it over and over again.
Golliver: Come on, Andrew. Give this guy his credit. The reason why he hasn't had a tough mismatch is because he's unbelievable. Has LeBron had a tough mismatch? Bojan and DeMar DeRozan sitting in the fourth quarter. Now we're supposed to call that a tough mismatch? No. Kevin Durant doesn't have a touch matchup because he's like 7 foot, he can pull up from five feet behind the three-point line, he can take you off the dribble, he can play four and five defensively, he can cover ground in the pick and roll, he can do it all.
Sharp: Look, I'm not going to argue with you. He's completely unguardable and you're right that he deserves a lot of credit for that. I just think he becomes even more unguardable, if that's possible, when you can't double him because he's passing to Steph or Klay or hitting Draymond and allowing him to go steamrolling down the lane to find someone. It's just really tough at that point, and then if it's single coverage with KD, you're right. He's the most unstoppable player on the planet. So, as someone who loves his game, I do wish that he were in a situation that allowed me to appreciate it a little bit more, because he is amazing. But we don't have to get into the KD argument yet. We've have plenty of Warriors blowouts in which we can discuss that.