It didn't take long for the Warriors to look like the best team in the NBA again.
Golden State responded after a rough loss Friday with a blowout 118-92 win Sunday afternoon at Smoothie King Center. The Warriors sprinted out of the gates and maintained their intensity throughout the contest, securing a 3-1 lead over the Pelicans in their Western Conference semifinals series.
Here are three takeaways from Game 4...
Warriors unleash "Hamptons Five"
After the Pelicans came out in Game 3 and smacked the Warriors in the mouth, Steve Kerr knew it was time to stop messing around. He sent out the "Hamptons Five" to start Game 4: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
That unit had never started a game in the regular season or the playoffs, but based on early returns, it should happen more often. The Warriors shot 62.5 percent in the first quarter and assisted on 12 of their first 15 made field goals. Each member of the "Hamptons Five" finished at least plus-12 after the opening period.
So, how did this group compare to Kerr's previous starting lineups? Well...
Game 1 Nick Young spot start minutes: -7- Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 6, 2018
Game 2 Nick Young spot start minutes: -10
Game 3 JaVale McGee spot start minutes: -10
Hamptons 5 start through 6 minutes today: +12
The starters also kicked off the second half with a 10-2 run to push Golden State's lead back into double-digits. It turns out putting your best players on the floor at the same time might yield positive results.
Kevin Durant, professional scorer
The Warriors take great pride in ball movement, crisp cutting and making the next pass to keep the defense on its heels. That was evident on Sunday, as Golden State totaled 28 assists, right in line with its regular season and playoff averages.
However, the Warriors also have the luxury of simply feeding one of the best scorers in NBA history and letting him go to work. Durant scored 38 points on 15-of-27 shooting, often working out of the post and releasing jumpers over smaller defenders.
10 for KD already!#DubNation fast start has them up 27-13 in the 1st.- NBA (@NBA) May 6, 2018
📺: #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/5dKCdmBauk
Alvin Gentry wants to avoid burning up Anthony Davis' energy on the defensive end, but the likes of Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore cannot even bother Durant's shot. Nikola Mirotic offers more size, but he's certainly not quick enough to stay in front of KD.
And at the end of the day, Durant is just going to make some contested shots, regardless of who stands in his way. This is the reason the Warriors chased him in free agency two years ago. He is an absolute matchup nightmare.
Durant drills it from deep and has 29 on the day!#DubNation 80 | #DoItBigger 64- NBA (@NBA) May 6, 2018
📺: #NBAonABC pic.twitter.com/wBmBxjwGd5
Making Anthony Davis work
Here's the message the Warriors' defense sent directly to the Pelicans all afternoon: "Please, anyone but Davis. You can score. And you can score. And you can score. But not Davis."
The five-time All-Star finished with 26 points, but it took him 22 field goal attempts to get there, and he turned the ball over six times. Golden State got physical with Davis and forced him into much less comfortable positions than Game 3. If the opportunity presented itself, a second Warriors defender doubled Davis and forced him to make a decision.
And those double teams often came from wherever Rajon Rondo was standing. As good as the Pelicans point guard has been in these playoffs, his lack of a reliable jump shot (and his reluctance to even look at the basket on several possessions) hurt New Orleans' spacing and made it easier for the Warriors to crash the paint.
Moore (20 points) and Holiday (19 points) tried to keep the Pelicans within striking distance, but the massive difference in talent was evident in Game 4. The Warriors will let those guys play one-on-one as much as they want. They won't let Davis beat them.