◼️ The “Line of Death” came to life in the Golden State Warriors.
Another reminder: In the NBA playoffs, where a simple decline can be enough to end a season, even the best teams don’t hesitate to make adjustments in their starting line-ups when they feel it is necessary.
Moments of desperation in the first round led Cleveland to take desperate measures regarding its initial quintet. Toronto, the team that finished the regular season with the second-best record in the NBA, tried to revive by changing their starting lineup against the Cavaliers in the third match of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Utah arrived with a new face against Houston on Sunday in the fourth match of their series in the semifinals of the West, and while the Jazz sometimes slowed down the attack of the Rockets ended up falling to a disadvantage of 3-1.
And then there is the case of the Warriors, who after a heavy defeat in the third game against New Orleans opted to send their best five players on the court _Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green_ for a Starting the game for the first time in the entire season. The result was a beating, one that allowed Golden State to return home with a 3-1 advantage in their series with the Pelicans.
“Whenever we have been facing any danger over the years, we have come to this alignment in some way,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “The lineup worked or whatever, but it’s not about alignment, not really.”
With all due respect to Kerr, maybe he’s overestimating that.
The five headlines of Sunday’s Golden State – which some call the “Alignment of Death” by the way they usually overwhelm their rivals, while others prefer to call them the “Hamptons Five” because Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, and Green were the players who traveled to the Hamptons a couple of summers in an attempt to convince Durant to sign with the Warriors_ they looked absolutely dominant. According to NBA.com, that lineup stayed together on the court for 18 minutes, during which time they beat the Pelicans 52-26.
Any other lineup used by the Warriors in the rest of the 30 minutes stayed in line with New Orleans, 66-66.
It was not exactly an emergency measure of Golden State. However, these NBA playoffs have had them.
Cleveland, which on Monday decided to sweep Toronto over the final of the Eastern Conference for the fourth consecutive year, was close to not even reaching this round. Faced with a defining seventh game in the first phase of the postseason, the Cavaliers sent LeBron James, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson – the four remaining players of the team that won the league title in 2016 – to join Kyle Korver as the starting point.
It was the first time they started a game together this season. James survived cramps to finish with 45 points and Cleveland beat Indiana to move on. Since then he has not lost.
“The five of us knew we could help each other,” James would claim later. “We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve had big games before. That gives us peace of mind”.
Such tranquility would be good for Toronto at this time.
Since James debuted in the league, only one team that has made the playoffs in the top of the conference table has been swept in a conference series and that’s Atlanta, in 2015, by James and the Cavaliers.
Toronto made adjustments in its starting line-up for the third match, Saturday night, choosing Fred VanVleet instead of Serge Ibaka, but the Raptors fell to a complicated 0-3 deficit in the series.
Now everything is at stake for the Raptors.