For this week’s Savvy/Shabby, we are going be looking at some plays made by teams that will be in the playoffs this year. We’ll start by looking at the San Antonio Spurs and a play that does a pretty good job of summing up their offensive game plan and what makes it so successful. After that, we are going to be looking at Jason Richardson and the mistake he made that led to a late game turnover.

Spurs’ Pick And Roll Leads To Jumper

The Spurs have used the pick-and-roll a lot this year, but not in the way that you would imagine. Their goal is to run the pick-and-roll, suck the defense in, then kick the ball to the corners while looking for the outside shot. That is what they do here, and I think the fact that the Spurs can get this system to work even with Tim Duncan on the bench shows you how effective the offense can be.

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The play starts with DeJuan Blair setting a ball screen for Tony Parker at the top of the key. You have George Hill in the far corner, closest to the bench and Antonio McDyess in the opposite corner a few steps in front of the three point line.

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As Parker comes off of the ball-screen, you have the hedge man stepping up to keep Parker from getting in the lane. This frees up the roll man, Blair, to be wide open as he dives into the paint. Naturally wanting to protect the rim, both defenders of the Spurs’ corner players step up to keep Blair from getting the ball and easily finishing.

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This would be a good defensive play if Blair was looking for his own jump shot, but this isn’t how the Spurs’ offense works. The bigs rolling to the rim aren’t looking for their own shot. Instead, their first move is to look to the corners to kick the basketball out. In this case, Blair kicks the ball out to McDyess in the corner (notice that George Hill is wide open in the corner as well).

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McDyess makes the catch and takes the wide-open jump shot, knocking it down. Here is the play in real time:

Notice how quickly Blair gets the basketball out of his hands and in to the corner. This is by design, and it doesn’t just happen with DeJuan Blair. This is the design with Tim Duncan in the game as well and shows the change the Spurs have made to their offense.

Jason Richardson Gets Caught In The Air

With about two minutes left in their game against the Chicago Bulls, the Orlando Magic were able to gain possession of the basketball while leading by one point. Looking to create a transition opportunity, the Magic push the basketball. However, instead of taking a three-point lead, the Magic turn the ball over:

Jameer Nelson brings the basketball up and kicks it ahead to Jason Richardson on the wing. Richardson makes a great pump fake, but while he is driving he loses control of the basketball. Instead of stopping, gathering the basketball, kicking it out, and restarting the offense (there was still 20 seconds left on the shot clock), Richardson tries to do everything all in one motion. Richardson jumps up, grabs the basketball, and tries to kick it out. Unfortunately, it is a rushed pass that goes to nobody in particular, starting a fast break for Chicago.

Richardson simply lost his mind in this situation and panicked, leaving his feet and making a rushed decision. If Richardson stays on his feet and gathers the basketball that way, he probably maintains possession, and the Magic are able to run their offense.

I think these two plays are a good example of what happens when you stay under control and what happens when you panic. In the first play, DeJuan Blair makes the catch rolling to the rim and instead of being out of control, he calmly hits his teammate for the open jumper. Meanwhile, Richardson loses control of the basketball and panics, needlessly giving the basketball away.

Until next time.