Despite less games — due to the fact that 8 teams went home for good — we still have plenty of great plays to look at for inspiration. First, we are going to look at a great lob play from the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook to Kevin Durant. On the other side of things, we are going to look at something that happened in both Los Angeles and Miami.
After Game 1, one of the reasons why the Thunder struggled was because the Grizzlies did a fantastic job of limiting Kevin Durant’s success coming off of screens. What Memphis was able to do was get in front of Durant, body him up, and prevent him from using the screen effectively. The Thunder were able to counter this in Game 2:
Here, Kevin Durant takes his man to the corner as Nick Collison gets himself in position to set a pin-down screen for Durant. Sam Young looks over and sees the screen, so when Durant jab steps towards the screen (to try and bait Young into thinking that he will use the screen), Sam Young reacts and overplays it very hard. However, Durant isn’t using the screen and he cuts backdoor, getting the lob from Russell Westbrook (who throws a great pass).
Fouling On Half Court Heaves
In two separate games on two separate days, we were lucky (or unlucky) enough to see the same shabby play made. At the end of the first half of both the Lakers-Mavericks and Heat-Celtics games, we saw a player get fouled with under one second left as he was taking a shot from behind half court. What makes this play even worse is that it comes off of a made basket, so instead of going in to halftime with the momentum, they go in to the locker room after giving up free points:
On this play, Dirk Nowitzki makes a basket at the rim and after, Pau Gasol inbounds it to Lamar Odom. Jason Terry meets Odom and plays tight defense on him as he brings up the basketball. With about one second left, Odom rises up to take a runner from behind half court. For whatever reason, Jason Terry tries to contest it and hits Odom on the wrist, giving him three foul shots.
Here, Dwyane Wade hits a three after making Ray Allen fall with a crossover. Boston quickly gets the ball into Rajon Rondo. As Rondo makes the catch, James Jones meets him and is putting pressure on him as he brings up the basketball. Rondo jumps into Jones and draws the foul (called a foul on the floor, so only two shots come of it). Was this a foul? Probably not, but Jones has no business even playing near Rajon Rondo with this little time left. Plus, he should have known it was coming, because he tried the same exact thing in Game 1.
I don’t know what the percentage is on half court bombs this season, but my guess is that it is probably low. I understand not wanting to give up an open shot, but if there is less than 5 seconds left and you score, just back up and play off of him. Fouling in this situation is worse than giving up an open look from behind half court.