This week, we are going to look at some more fourth quarter plays. First, we are going to look at Andre Miller breaking off of his cut when his teammate gets doubled, making himself available and getting the pass. Then, we are going to look at a poor inbounds pass and then a poor defensive play made by Daequan Cook.
Andre Miller Finds The Open Area
In their game against the San Antonio Spurs, the Portland Trail Blazers found themselves up by three points with about 2:30 left in the game. After LaMarcus Aldridge gets double teamed, Andre Miller is able to find the open spot, get the pass, and set up the game clinching three-point shot.
After milking a little clock, Andre Miller looks to get the ball into LaMarcus Aldridge on the block. After making his pass, Miller is going to cut off of Aldridge to the opposite corner, giving Aldridge plenty of room to work with in the post.
As Miller is on his way to clear out, his man, Gary Neal, leaves him to double team Aldridge. As soon as this happens, Miller breaks off of his cut and heads directly to the ball-side block.
What makes this play such a heads up play is that Miller is cutting into an open area occupied by no defenders. If he cuts straight to the rim, the help defense would be able to get to him, so instead he cuts to the block, knowing that the defense can’t make a play on a pass.
Because Miller makes the catch in that open area, the defense is forced to collapse on him. Miller catches the ball at the rim, but he never looks for his shot once. He reads the defense, and sees that they have their back to Gerald Wallace behind the three point line. Miller throws a nice touch pass to Wallace.
The quickness of the pass to Wallace prevents the defense from closing out on Wallace in time, and he is able to get off a wide open three that he makes, effectively ending the game. Here is the play in real time:
Just a great all around play by Andre Miller here as he does a number of smart things that result in an open three point shot. First, he breaks off of his cut when he sees the double team, he then cuts into the correct spot, forcing the defense to collapse on him, and then he throws a quick touch pass when that does happen. Great play.
Poor Finish For Daequan Cook
The Oklahoma City Thunder were ahead of the Golden State Warriors by six points when Reggie Williams hit a three to cut the lead to three points with 11.4 seconds left. No big deal though, all Daequan Cook needs to do is get the ball in-bounds, allow his teammate to draw the foul, make the foul shots, and put the game out of reach. However, things didn’t work out that way:
While his Thunder teammates don’t really help him by just standing there instead of working to get open, you have to place the blame on Cook for a number of reasons:
- First, he takes the basketball from Kevin Durant right away, allowing the 5 second count to start. How many times have you seen players let the ball bounce as he surveys the situation, letting his teammates set up? The reason is because until the player actually grabs the basketball, the five second count doesn’t start. Cook grabs the basketball and the count starts right away, maybe rushing him a little bit.
- Second, it is just a bad pass. You have Steph Curry on Kevin Durant, so I understand using Durant’s length and getting the basketball in the air. However, Cook overshoots him by a mile. In situations like this, you simply need to get the ball near Durant, let him get his hand on the basketball, forcing the defense to foul.
- Finally, Cook plays bad defense on top of the poor inbounds pass. Monta Ellis is the one who steals the basketball, and he takes the ball behind the three-point line. Cook, after turning it over closes out on him. Ellis gives one pump fake and Cook goes flying in to the bench. Ellis now has a wide-open three that he knocks down, sending the game into overtime. If Cook closes out under control and gets a hand in his face, maybe Ellis doesn’t knock the shot down.
With these two plays, you see the importance of decision-making late in games. Miller made a number of correct decisions that lead to a wide-open three while Cook made a number of errors that also lead to a wide-open three, the problem in this case is that it was for the opponent.
Until next time.