Warriors Notes: Starting Lineup, Payton, Second Round

Warriors coach Steve Kerr used a small-ball starting lineup to close out the Nuggets on Wednesday night, but he hasn’t decided if he’ll keep it for the rest of the playoffs, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Stephen Curry made his first start since returning from a sprained left foot and bone bruise, and was joined by Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in a group that created match-up problems for Denver throughout the series.

A smaller approach might fare differently against the Grizzlies, who don’t rely on a big man the way the Nuggets do with Nikola Jokic. Memphis also went smaller in its first-round series, as starting center Steven Adams played a combined seven minutes after Game 1. He is currently in health and safety protocols.

“I don’t know, honestly,” Kerr said when asked about his lineup plans. “I’m not committed to anything. I think I told you before the playoffs started, we just don’t know this team that well because we haven’t had everybody together. You start thinking about all the options, you just don’t have any evidence. You don’t have any film, you don’t have the analytics. You can’t ask our analytics department for all the lineup combinations and plus-minus, offensive/defensive ratings, all that stuff, because these groups haven’t been together.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Gary Payton II barely earned a roster spot before the season started, but he played a huge role in the Game 5 win over Denver, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. With Poole having an off night and Andre Iguodala injured, Payton was on the court for almost the entire fourth quarter as Golden State rallied to win. “Our front office has done an incredible job just plucking out talent where teams might have disregarded a guy,” Thompson said. “But our system and the confidence we give guys allows them to be themselves. What a find GP was.”
  • The Warriors don’t have anyone else who can stay in front of Ja Morant, so Payton might have an even bigger role in this series, Slater suggests in a separate story. Payton made six of eight three-point attempts against Denver, and he may move into a starting role if he keeps shooting that well.
  • The Grizzlies remind the Warriors of their early days as a contender, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Memphis is the league’s second-youngest team with an average age of 24, and its oldest players are Adams and Kyle Anderson at 28. “They’ve built a foundation over the last few years through player development, through really smart drafting, investment, and they are really well coached,” Kerr said.
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