the Golden State Warriors ground the visiting Denver Nuggets to dust for a second consecutive game Monday, and the discourse exploded right on schedule. Are the Warriors back? Is Chase Center as raucous as Oracle? Will Joel Embiid partisans ever say something nice about Nikola Jokic? These are all literal questions, and maybe someone has time to answer them. But there was another question wafting in the air, a much more important one that whipped up a collective frenzy: What the hell are we supposed to call Golden State’s new death lineup?
For the seven or eight of you not in the know, the (original) death lineup was not an influential 1980s anarcho-crust band but a name lovingly bestowed way back in the 2014-15 season on the genre-bending five-man unit of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. Skilled playmakers, elite shooting, aggressive long-limbed defenders — this was essentially the platonic ideal of winning small-ball. Steve Kerr (nice guy, good-looking guy!) wisely leaned into this dangerous lineup during the playoffs, and it propelled the Golden State Warriors to their first championship in 40 years. The following season, the same lineup hammered the league nightly and won the most regular season games in NBA history and nothing bad happened after that. And of course, the next year the rich got richer and switched out solid New Republic subscriber Harrison Barnes for human hell Kevin Durant. The death lineup became the megadeath lineup. And then Durant left. Iguodala was traded. Klay and Steph were injured. Draymond’s attention wandered. The death lineup, for all intents and purposes, was dead.