Five reasons the Thunder's small lineup is so effective

The Thunder have found their own small-ball lineup, which they have used to great effect in the Western Conference finals. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Much has been made of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s five-man lineup of Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka against the Golden State Warriors, and for good reason. That unit is plus-49 in 30 minutes this series, and no other Thunder five-man lineup is better than plus-5.

But why has this lineup been so effective? Really, it’s a team effort.

Westbrook and Durant are running wild

Durant has been 7-of-10 for 22 points with this lineup. He also has 12 defensive rebounds, five blocks and two steals in those 30 minutes.

Westbrook has been more like himself in this lineup. He has scored 33 points on 47.8 percent shooting (11 of 23) with this lineup. He’s shooting 39.7 percent in any other lineup combination.

Durant and Westbrook have combined to score 22 transition points in those 30 minutes with this lineup. The Thunder have outscored the Warriors 28-0 in transition with these five players.

Roberson is hitting open shots

Roberson started the postseason 1-of-14 from 3-point range, including 0-of-6 on uncontested shots, but he’s making those shots now. The Warriors have allowed 18 of Roberson’s 29 shots in the conference finals to go uncontested, and he’s made 13 of those 18 shots.

Waiters is passing more

Waiters ranked third on the Thunder with 41 assist opportunities in the first two rounds of the playoffs, trailing Westbrook (198) and Durant (84). In the conference finals, Waiters has created the second-most assist opportunities for the Thunder, nearly doubling his totals from the first two rounds.

Ibaka is owning the paint

As the lone big man in the lineup, Ibaka is relied upon to defend the rim. The Warriors are shooting 70.3 percent in the restricted area this series with Ibaka off the court. With Ibaka on court, their field goal percentage in the restricted area drops to 47.1 percent.

Lineup keeps the Warriors stars in check

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala have been on the court for a bulk of the time against the Thunder’s lineup with Ibaka as the only big man.

Thompson is the only one on the Warriors who hasn’t been that affected by it.

Thompson is shooting 50.0 percent (9-of-18) against that lineup. Curry is shooting 37.5 percent (6-of-16) against it, and Green is shooting 7.7 percent (1-of-13).

The lineup gives the Thunder multiple options to guard Curry, preventing mismatches against big men. As the chart shows, he has thrived when a center or a power forward guards him.