Sebastian Pruiti is the founder and editor of NBAPlaybook.com, a blog started in 2010 that takes a look at the Xs and Os of the NBA. He will be contributing weekly to The Basketball Jones with his Savvy/Shabby series that looks at the best and worst plays, coaching decisions, and player decisions in the NBA.
Getting the basketball inbounds late in games is something taken completely for granted whenever we are watching a NBA game. We always assume that the basketball will be inbounded and worry about the guys on the court and what they are doing, when in actuality, getting the basketball inbounds is probably the hardest part of any late set. In this week’s Savvy/Shabby, we are going to look at Jason Terry and his heads-up play as he caught a late inbounds pass and Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller, whose tiny mistakes led to a bobbled pass on the Heat’s final possession.
Jason Terry’s Heads-Up Decision
After the Miami Heat went for a quick two, the Dallas Mavericks found themselves up one point with nine seconds left. Coming out of their final timeout, the Mavericks needed to get the basketball inbounds and they had to do it without the benefit of having a timeout to bail them out. The Mavericks spread the court out, and with Dirk Nowitzki getting doubled, the inbounds target becomes Jason Terry:
In the NBA Finals, every decision, good or bad, is amplified as every play could be a gamechanger. Obviously, most important during these games (which look like they will be competitive for the duration of the series) is fourth quarter decision-making. Today we are going to look at decision making late, both good and bad. First, we are going to look at a fantastic pass made by Chris Bosh, and second, we are going to look at a poor defensive play made by Jason Terry:
Chris Bosh’s Assist
With about six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Chris Bosh found himself defended by Jason Terry, getting the basketball at the elbow. Instead of trying to back his man down and force something, he stayed patient and made a terrific play.
The deeper in to the postseason we have been getting, the tighter the games have been. In tight games late, the importance of every decision is amplified, so it makes sense that this week’s Savvy/Shabby takes a look at a few decisions made late in games. First, we are going to take a look at a perfectly timed double team by Shawn Marion, leading to a key turnover. Then , we are going to look at Chicago Bulls’ late game playcalling in the final seconds of the fourth quarter with the game tied.
Shawn Marion’s Double Team
The key to a good double team is timing. Go too soon and the man you are doubling will pass out of it easily, go too late and you allow the man you are doubling to get a shot off. With about a minute left in overtime against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Shawn Marion threw the perfect double team at Kevin Durant.
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.
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).
These first round series have been one of the most exciting and competitive first rounds (only one sweep) in recent memory, and that has given us plenty to choose from, both in terms of savvy plays and shabby plays. This week, we are going to look at how the Mavericks made great passing decisions that resulted in a wide open three-point look. On the shabby side of things, we are going to look at the San Antonio Spurs and their very uncharacteristic struggles with clock management in game three.
Dallas’ Two-Man Game
After a terrible 4th quarter loss, the Dallas Mavericks needed to do just about everything perfect to not only guarantee a win, but to boost their confidence. In the middle of the second quarter, we saw Jason Kidd make a terrific play in transition that resulted in a wide open three-point shot for his teammate:
The play starts with Jason Terry getting possession of the basketball and sprinting it out to the corner. Jason Kidd fills the wing and gets the kick-out pass. The Mavericks now have a two-on-one advantage with Gerald Wallace trying to defend both Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Instead of taking the open shot, Kidd — who has been hitting shots this series — fakes the shot, selling the fake by bending his knees as if he is going to take the shot. This draws Wallace to Kidd, who then throws a pass to the wide-open Jason Terry. Terry is open in the corner, knocks down the three and gives the Mavericks the lead.
Welcome to the playoff version of Savvy/Shabby, where we are going to be looking at some of the smartest and dumbest plays of the NBA postseason. Here, we are going to be looking at some last second defensive decisions. First, we are going to look at Russell Westbrook and his fantastic read that lead to an easy dunk near the end of the first half of Game 1. Then, we’ll look at Carmelo Anthony and why it took him four seconds to foul Delonte West in last night’s Game 2.
With the shot clock and the game clock even, the Denver Nuggets are looking to take the last shot of the half here. On this particular play, you have Raymond Felton dribbling the basketball out and Kenyon Martin coming up and setting a screen for Felton with about 12 seconds remaining.