Maybe the most tempting shot in transition is the three-point shot. With the defense hustling back to protect the paint, there is usually an opportunity to pull up and take a three. This doesn’t mean that every three-point shot is a good one though, and even if you are a great shooter, you need to take the situation into account before deciding whether or not to take a three in transition.
In this week’s Savvy/Shabby, we are going to look at two threes in transition. For the good, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined to get a wide-open three. On the other hand, Jason Terry took a three-point shot too quickly on the clock against the Thunder and it almost proved costly.
Kevin Durant’s Transition Three
Up 11 points against the Grizzlies in Game 7, the Thunder were able to get a stop in transition, giving themselves a transition opportunity of their own. Oklahoma City were able to take advantage with a great decision by Russell Westbrook on the break.
After Kevin Durant gets the block, the ball gets sent to Westbrook who is standing at half court. It is a 2-on-2 situation with the two Grizzlies defenders already sitting back in the paint. Instead of forcing the issue, Westbrook takes a few dribbles waiting for his team to catch up, and he hits Kevin Durant who is trailing the play. Durant steps into the shot and knocks it down.
This was a great decision by Westbrook because the defense was already back. It wasn’t like they were running along side of him and he could simply run by them to get to the rim. They were already in the paint, looking to collapse on Westbrook, so Westbrook simply took advantage of that by dropping the basketball off to Durant.
Jason Terry’s Bad Three-Point Attempt
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks had a 7-point lead with about three minutes left, despite the fact that Dirk went insane. The Mavericks were able to get a turnover, starting a fast break, however when Jason Kidd tried to slow things down, Jason Terry decided just to get up a three.
Here, Jason Kidd knocks the ball away and Terry gains possession, starting the two-on-one fast break. Terry initially throws a bad pass to Kidd, forcing him to adjust his route to the rim to catch the ball. At this point, the Mavericks’ advantage in transition is gone, and Kidd tries to pull the ball out to Jason Terry. Instead of resetting the offense, Terry gets up a pretty bad three in transition that he misses.
This three is bad for a number of reasons. First, you are only up seven. If you slow things down and run your offense (give the ball to Dirk), you are probably going to extend the lead to nine. It isn’t as if the Mavericks’ were struggling to get looks on the offensive end. Also, the miss allowed Shawn Marion to pick up his sixth foul and foul out of the game on an over-the-back call. While the Mavericks ended up holding on and winning the game, if they would have lost, this is the play that everyone would have been pointing at.
Decision making in transition is important. You need to know when it is the right time to pull up for a three and when you should pull it back and run the offense. These two plays are a great illustration of that.