HOUSTON — For the past three games, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has started the so-called Hamptons Five — Kevin Durant, and the four players who travelled to the Hamptons two summers ago to woo him.
The Warriors have won all three, including a close-out game against the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, and the first road playoff opener in Steve Kerr’s tenure, a 119-106 win over the Houston Rockets.
In that Game 1, though, the Warriors fell behind 12-4 out of the rip, prompting Kerr to sub in Kevon Looney for Andre Iguodala. Asked whether he was tempted to tinker with his lineup before Game 2, Kerr smirked.
“Yes, I am tempted to switch it up,” he said. “But I’m not going to announce anything, as usual.”
During the regular season, Kerr deployed 250 different lineups overall (according to NBA.com) and started 27 different lineups. It wasn’t until Game 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans that Kerr first started the Hamptons Five — Durant, Iguodala, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson — after losing Game 3.
The lineup played in 28 games during the regular season, but only played in short spurts (averaging 4.5 minutes), but in Game 4 of the semifinals, they played 18 minutes, and posted a net rating of plus-63.6, per NBA.com/stats. For context, Houston led the NBA in net rating during the regular season, at plus-8.5.
That lineup averaged 125.7 points per 100 possessions (the Warriors led the regular season with a mark of 112.3) in the regular season while allowing just 66.5 points per 100 (Boston led the NBA during the regular season with 101.5). In the playoffs, the lineup is averaging 126.4 points per 100 possessions, and allowing 92.0.
Here’s the rub: While that lineup has a net rating of 34.4 in the playoffs, that lineup without Thompson (who scored 28 in Game 1 on 6-of-15 from three), but with Kevon Looney, has a net rating of 43.0 points, and a defensive rating of 90.6 points allowed per 100 possessions.
Looney came in at the end of that 12-4 spurt, and got the Warriors off to a 6-0 run, thanks to his defense on James Harden. With Looney and Curry making Harden and Chris Paul work on offense — whether they stop them or not — that expended energy is going to show up on the defensive end for the Rockets.