Saturday, October 6, 2012

Drawing Up the Penultimate Play of Nuggets vs. Clippers

The first ever NBA game on the strip in Vegas produced some fireworks late.  After an improbable Matt Barnes fade away three, the Nuggets led the Clippers by one with under 20 seconds left and Danilo Gallinari going to the line.  Gallo split the two and the Clippers called time to advance the ball to midcourt and draw up a game winning play.  On the possession before, Los Angeles had tried to go to Jamal Crawford who had scored their last eight points, but he was aggressively double teamed leading to the Barnes trey.  With this in mind, the oft criticized Vinny Del Negro called the perfect play.

The Clippers set up with Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf at the elbows, Matt Barnes in the weak-side corner, Eric Bledsoe taking the ball out, and the man George Karl thought they were going to go to, Jamal Crawford on the low block.

Hollins sets a down screen for Crawford who is going towards the top of the key.  You can already see the doubleteamer Ty Lawson cheating over.

After the double team, Bledsoe immediately looks to Ryan Hollins who has drifted of the mid post after setting his screen.

As soon as Hollins receives the ball, Bledsoe cuts baseline and Hollins hands the ball right back.  This is so effective because Bledsoe's defender is trailing him by a good distance because of the double team.
As you can see, Bledsoe has a clear path to the basket.  The help defense is a millisecond late, enough to allow Bledsoe to finish a tough reverse layup.

The Clips went on to lose the game on a Ty Lawson buzzer beater, but there are still plenty of positives to take away.  Probably the biggest one is this more inventive crunch time play calling.  The coaching staff saw what Denver was doing, adjusted and drew up the right play.  I may be the only person on the planet saying this: kudos to Del Negro.    

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