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 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.
After taking a break to look at some of the best and worst plays of EuroBasket, we are back to looking at some of last season’s best plays. Today we’ll be tackling after timeout plays, where you see some of the most creative Xs and Os plays in a game. This is our third installation, check here for parts one and two.
Portland Frees Up Rudy Fernandez for a Three
Coming out of a timeout, Portland found themselves up by 11 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves early in the second quarter. Looking to put the game out of reach quickly and take the Timberwolves out of it, the Blazers ran a quick hitting play designed to get Rudy Fernandez a wide-open three-point shot.
The ball comes in from the sideline, with Nicolas Batum inbounding the ball to Patty Mills. After making the inbounds pass, Batum goes to the rim, positioning himself in the paint. He continues, flashing up to the top of the key after going between Rudy Fernandez and LaMarcus Aldridge, who are setting screens for him.
Once Batum gets to the top of the key, Mills swings the ball to him. As this is happening, LaMarcus Aldridge steps in and sets a screen for Rudy Fernandez. Fernandez uses the screen to pop out behind the three-point line to the wing.
Fernandez makes the catch and is able to pull up for the wide-open three. Here is the play in real time:
What Nate McMillian does here is lull the Timberwolves to sleep. Most quick hitting plays out of timeouts are one action and a shot, so it looks like the Blazers are setting up Batum for a three at the top of the key. Instead, it is Fernandez who they are looking to get open. When he comes off the Aldridge screen, his defender is late getting to him, allowing him to get off the open shot.
Pistons Put the Defense In a Lose-Lose Situation
Say what you will about John Kuester and his ability to keep his players from hating him to the point where they won’t perform, but he could draw up one heck of a play. He showed it here, running an quick-hitting set that forces the defense to make a very tough decision.
The play starts when the ball gets inbounded from Ben Gordon to Tayshaun Prince in the post. Once Gordon inbounds the basketball, he gets a backscreen from a Piston big. Gordon uses that backscreen to flare out to the high post.
D.J. Augustin gets caught up in the screen, leaving Gordon open enough to receive the pass. This forces Tracy McGrady’s defender to make a decision. Either step up and take the shot away from Gordon and leave McGrady open, or stay with McGrady and leave Gordon open. Gordon had been shooting well all night, so the defender steps to him and leaves McGrady.
With the defense stepping up to Gordon, McGrady is wide-open in the corner behind the three-point line. Gordon does a good job of recognizing the help and getting the ball out of his hands quickly to McGrady.
McGrady makes the catch and knocks down the open three-pointer. Here is the play in real time:
This is a very nice play drawn up from coach Kuester, and it is also a nice read from Ben Gordon. Instead of forcing up the jumper, he hits the man in the corner for the open three. The goal here was to make the defense commit to something, whether it be stay at home or help. The defense chose to help and the Pistons were able to make them pay.