One of my favorite college basketball blogs is a site called The Mikan Drill, a site that looks at the Xs and Os of the college game. Something that they have been doing over there since the season has ended was Season Leftovers, looking at some great sets over the course of the college season. An idea so good, that I decided to bring it over here during the NBA offseason.
Coming out of a timeout, trailing by one point with less that 24 seconds left in the game is one of the toughest positions for a head coach. The opposition gets to set up their defense and they are able react to whatever you do. Sure, you can go with an isolation, ensuring that your best player gets the shot. But if you run a set to put your best player in position to score, you are more likely to get an open shot. These coaches proved that.
Lionel Hollins Beats Dallas
With 3.1 seconds left, the Memphis Grizzlies found themselves trailing the Dallas Mavericks by one point with the ball on the side. The Grizzlies were able to run a nice play that put Zach Randolph in position to knock down the go ahead jumper:
As the ball goes to the trigger man, Shane Battier comes off of a screen from Darrell Arthur on the block. Instead of using the screen to get to the corner, Battier uses the screen to flash to the top of the key. As this happens, O.J. Mayo flashes into the paint and then shoots out towards the corner, spacing the court for his teammates.
As Battier uses his screen, Zach Randolph walks his man down the middle of the lane, heading straight to the rim. At the last second, Randolph puts his foot in the ground and cuts off of another Arthur screen.
Randolph makes the catch in the corner, and after facing up, he is able to knock down the jumper. Here is the play in real time:
This is an extremely simple play, but the reason why I like it so much is because it shows that Lionel Hollins knows his personnel. He knows that Randolph’s rainbow shot allows him to hit it over bigger defenders and that all he needs to do is get him the ball in his spot, in this case the short corner. So instead of trying to draw up this amazing play that gets Randolph wide open, he runs something simple that he knows his team can execute, gets him the ball in the short corner, and lets Zach go to work.
Doc Rivers Beats New York
After a great playcall to get his team within a point, following a Carmelo Anthony offensive foul, the Boston Celtics found themselves with the basketball on the side and with 21 seconds left. In this situation, Doc Rivers decided to go with a play that he has run in the past and that he knows will work in this situation.
The play starts with Kevin Garnett setting a downscreen for Paul Pierce, allowing Pierce to come off of it and run straight to Ray Allen, looking for the basketball.
After Pierce makes the catch and gets to his proper spot on the court, Ray Allen comes over and sets a ballscreen for Pierce.
With Pierce coming off of the screen, Toney Douglas is forced to hedge. As this happens, Allen pops off of his screen, but it isn’t a straight pop, as he uses a screen from Garnett to get to the wing on his pop.
Douglas’ show now puts him in a natural trail position, and against a player like Allen that isn’t the position you want to be in. Garnett sneaks in and gets the screen on Douglas. Allen makes the catch wide open. With Garnett setting the screen, Turiaf is forced to step up and help on Allen, but he doesn’t get there quick enough and Allen is given enough room to pull up and knock down the shot to give Boston a two-point lead. Here is the play in real time:
While Lionel Hollins did simple really well in the first play we looked at, Doc Rivers does complicated really well here. He has to if he wants to get a shooter like Ray Allen open for a three-point shot. Also, if you notice, when Rivers runs this complicated play, he is using his three veterans (Pierce, Allen, and Garnett), guys Rivers trusts late in games to not only execute the play, but to finish it off with a make as well.