Welcome to the playoff version of Savvy/Shabby, where we are going to be looking at some of the smartest and dumbest plays of the NBA postseason. Here, we are going to be looking at some last second defensive decisions. First, we are going to look at Russell Westbrook and his fantastic read that lead to an easy dunk near the end of the first half of Game 1. Then, we’ll look at Carmelo Anthony and why it took him four seconds to foul Delonte West in last night’s Game 2.

Westbrook’s Read


With the shot clock and the game clock even, the Denver Nuggets are looking to take the last shot of the half here. On this particular play, you have Raymond Felton dribbling the basketball out and Kenyon Martin coming up and setting a screen for Felton with about 12 seconds remaining.


As Felton comes off of the screen, Nick Collison steps up, forcing Felton to pick up his dribble. When this happens, Martin pops out, looking for the pass as the safety. However, as soon as Felton picks up his dribble, Russell Westbrook reads what is going on and takes off to go and defend Martin.


Westbrook uses his speed to get a hand on the bounce pass thrown by Felton, knocking the ball loose and creating the turnover.


After getting the steal Westbrook is able to fly down the court and get himself a big dunk to cut the lead to one. Here is the play in real time:

This is a great read by Westbrook and very solid understanding of defensive rotations to make the play. Westbrook knows that with Felton trapped in the corner, he isn’t going to be able to get a pass off to his man all the way on the opposite side of the court. This gives him the confidence to leave his man, get the steal, and get a fast break dunk.

Carmelo’s No Foul

After the turnover by Jared Jeffries with 4.1 seconds left, the Knicks found themselves down by one with Boston holding the basketball on the side. A quick foul means that the Knicks will have a chance to get a game-tying (or winning if there are missed free throws) shot attempt. However, Anthony doesn’t commit the foul in time:

Anthony allows Delonte West to get away from him, and when he does catch the basketball in the backcourt, West is able to burn 3.5 seconds before Anthony can catch up and get the foul. A few thoughts:

  • In his post-game interview, Anthony mentioned that he just couldn’t get to West. While that was true, it is Anthony’s fault since he is the one who lets West get away from him in the first place.
  • To me, it looks like Anthony thinks he has help coming from somebody (maybe the man who is defending the inbounder?), but that help never comes.
  • After West makes the catch, Anthony’s jogging also wasted some time. Once West cuts towards the backcourt, Anthony needs to sprint to catch him and get the foul as quickly as possible.

Instead of maybe 3.5 seconds left to give the Knicks’ a chance to win the game, there was just 0.6 seconds, and the Knicks had to settle for a 3/4-court heave to try and tie the game. Not good.

With these last second plays, we are able to get a glimpse at two player’s defensive awareness. On one hand, you have Russell Westbrook who is able to recognize what is taking place in front of him. On the other, you have Carmelo Anthony failing to realize his responsibility to commit the foul, allowing for precious time to run off of the clock.

Until next time.

Comments (9)

  1. Great analysis as always. I’m going to try and be the Westbrook in that trap situation tonight at hoops.

    I wonder what is the explanation for Melo jogging out to stop the play? Laziness? Poor coaching? Mental error?

  2. The whole Knicks squad looked like they didn’t even know they were in a basketball game for about 3 seconds, which were arguably the most important 3 seconds of the game.

    As for Westbrook, great point on the trap situation. And even greater pic above of him dunking. That would make an awesome poster.

  3. I tend to disagree with the second, Carmelo should have been guarding the in bounds pass because of having 5 fouls. If NY would have made any desperation 3 even with 4 seconds left had West been fouled right away, NY would have needed Carmelo Anthony in overtime to have any chance of winning. It was stupid that he was put in that situation to begin with…..

  4. It looks to me like the Knicks didn’t expect the Celtics to pass into the backcourt, resulting in Anthony being out of position and sow to react.

  5. I think Melo was just tired…

  6. You could’ve made Melo’s pass to Jared Jeffries the ‘Savvy’ play here. Instead of going into hero mode and trying to beat a triple-team, he identifies the open man and fires a pass to him right at the hoop. Not his fault that Jeffries made a complete hash of it.

  7. WOW….WWOW……………..WOW

    Yeah lets get on the guy who put up 42/ 17/ 6. Playing 44 minutes with that lineup.

    Lets assume he fouls him and get 3.5 seconds. Thats with no timeouts….NONE. Run full court and gets a decent shot up……yea real likely.

    The guy gives a WINNING pass to Jefferies at the end (more or less) of regulation. He makes it and hes your SAVVVY

    Watch the WHOLE game PRUITI. Seriously, im not a knicks fan but this is BULLSHIT.

  8. For AC, bb and the other Melo apologists: Do you not see the massive hole in your ridiculous excuse-making? You effectively argue that had the Knicks possession, he’d also have been too tired to expend the effort. I somehow doubt it.

    bb, just acknowledge an isolated instance of poor play when you see it. Dope. Nobody called in to question the rest of Melo’s game. Strangely you felt compelled to leap to his “defense” anyway.

    Sure, a largely great game was played by whom many would call an idol. Too bad you can’t put brains in a statue. Or its sycophantic followers, it seems.

  9. @borgs

    right on the money

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