The Warriors disemboweled the Cavaliers last night, winning by 33 in a game that didn’t feel that close, and while there are a million different reasons why, one of the biggest is how effectively Golden State played small. Down two to begin the second quarter, the Warriors went the next 12 minutes without a traditional center and ended the quarter with an eight point lead. After Andrew Bogut played the first 3:20 of the third quarter, Draymond Green played center for the remaining 8:40, and the Warriors were +10. In 20:40 of game time, various Warriors smallball lineups were +20.
To even casual basketball observers, the Warriors dominating with a smallball lineup came as no surprise. They went small for short stretches last season, and relied upon their small Death Lineup to beat the Cavs in overtime of Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals. They played small even more this season, and the Thunder figuring the Death Lineup out for a few games is one of the biggest reasons they went up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals. The Death Lineup reasserting itself is one of the biggest reasons the Warriors turned the series around and won.