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.

With the EuroLeague not starting for another four days, I thought it would be interesting to bring things back to our Season Leftovers series. Picking up where we left off last time, we are going to look at two game-winners today.

Miami’s Game 3 Winner

Miami got a lot of flack for their fourth quarter play, and deservedly so. However, at the end of Game 3 Miami used team basketball to get Chris Bosh an open game-winner attempt that he knocked down.

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The play starts with Dwyane Wade dribbling out the clock a bit at the top of the key as LeBron James gets a pindown screen set for him by Mario Chalmers.

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The pindown screen set for James leads right into a James/Wade pick-and-roll. The Mavericks decide to trap this PnR with Jason Kidd going over the top of the screen and Shawn Marion leaving James to be the second defender. Not willing to leave LeBron James open at the top of the key, Tyson Chandler comes from the weakside to meet James as he rolled to the foul line after setting his screen for Wade.

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What Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on the same side of the court does is it draws all of the attention of the defense. As you can see here, there were four Maverick defenders on the side with Wade and James, leaving Dirk Nowitzki on his own to defend the remaining two Heat players (Udonis Haslem and Bosh).

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The key to this set is the action away from the basketball. Instead of just standing around, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh run a nice screen action, with Haslem setting the screen and Bosh popping out to the corner. With all eyes on James and the basketball, it is really easy for Haslem to get the screen set on Bosh’s defender.

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LeBron James takes on the double team and makes a great pass to Bosh in the corner. Haslem sets a very strong screen, resulting in Chris Bosh making the catch wide-open, allowing him to square up and knock it down, giving Miami the lead. Here is the play in real time:

This play right here is why the Miami Heat are so dangerous when they decide they want to play team basketball. Here, you have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James drawing the attention of the defense, and when that happens it allows Haslem to sneak in there and set a screen for Chris Bosh on the weak side. Great call by Erik Spoelstra, understanding that Dallas would load up against these two and using weakside action to result in an open shot after a tremendous pass by LeBron.

Portland’s Game-winning Lob

A late season matchup between the Spurs and the Trail Blazers was a strange one. After San Antonio blew a chance at getting the game winning shot, Portland had the basketball on the side with 0.9 seconds left, looking to pull ahead.

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As the basketball goes to the trigger man, the Blazers have a lot of things going on. Wesley Matthews flashes to the basketball near the halfcourt line as LaMarcus Aldridge flashes to the corner behind the three-point line. The main action, however, is Brandon Roy coming off of a screen set by Nicolas Batum.

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The Spurs’ strategy was to play straight man while switching any screens. One of the results of this strategy is Tiago Splitter chasing Aldridge out to the three-point line. This opens the lane for Nicolas Batum and his path to the rim. Before the screen can get set, Batum slips the screen and heads straight towards the rim on the weakside. Batum showing the screen forces the Spurs to initiate the switch, with Tony Parker picking up Batum and Manu Ginobili picking up Roy.

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Parker is a tad bit late on the switch, and this creates a window for Andre Miller to throw the lob. Also notice that the lane is clear because Splitter is out standing in the corner with Aldridge.

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Parker actually does a pretty good job of recovering on the play, but the height difference is too great and Batum is able to get the basketball, tip it in the direction of the basket and win the game for the Blazers. Here is the play in real time:

This was a great play call by Nate McMillan because he understood how the San Antonio Spurs would be defending the possession and he took advantage. Knowing that they were playing straight man, he sends LaMarcus Aldridge to the corner, effectively taking Tiago Splitter out of the play. Knowing that the Spurs would switch ball screens, McMilan used Batum to show a screen, initiate the switch, and then slip the screen, getting a wide-open path to the rim for the lob. Great design and great execution.

Comments (1)

  1. re: the Bosh winner, considering the first two screens set were terrible, I think the real culprit of the play was the overly agressive hedge by Marion (more than understandable with who was coming off the PnR) and Nowitzki being caught ball watching.

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