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Explain One Play: Awesome Stephen Curry Bank Shot And-1

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Video analysis of a play from the Warriors-Timberwolves game. Two earlier plays set up a gorgeous Curry bank shot And-1 to seal the game.

Curry signals the number of modeling gigs Riley has.
Curry signals the number of modeling gigs Riley has.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, the play we're focusing on ends with Stephen Curry hitting a gorgeous bank shot with the foul shot with under two minutes to go, turning an 8 point lead into an 11-point game, sealing the game.

But to get there, we're going to see three plays from the game that all start the same way but end with different options. When you have different plays that start with the same action, it makes the defense more uncertain and a step slower to react.

Play Version 1.  Guess The Play

Every single play here starts with a power forward (Draymond Green here) set up on the right elbow and Curry and Klay Thompson running past each other underneath the basket.  I'm just going to show you this play. See if you can name the play. (Hint: we've covered it in a previous One Play.)

Okay, if you were paying attention, this is the Warriors Rip play we analyzed in detail yesterday.  The play starts with Curry and Klay crossing under the basket with Draymond set up on the right elbow. Curry runs towards him as if to use him as a screen. Instead, he screens Draymond's man and Draymond gets an easy layup off the pass from Klay.

Play Version 2. A Floppy Surprise

This play begins (wait for it) with the power forward Harrison Barnes set up on the right elbow, and Curry and Klay cross under the basket. Curry heads towards Draymond as if Curry is going to use Barnes for a screen OR perhaps run the Warriors Rip Play Version 1. But watch what happens next.

Well, it ends badly, but you can see they fake running a curl. Barnes gets nominated for an Emmy for gesturing over his shoulder inviting Curry to use his screen.  it's a fake though. And it's not the fake we know and love, the Warriors Rip (version 1 above) where Curry screens for Barnes and Klay feeds him for a dunk. No, it's a twist where Curry turns around and gets a screen from Klay under the basket turning it into (wait for it) a Floppy play.  What is a Floppy? We covered it in depth earlier in Explain One Play: Warriors+Floppy = Klay 3, but in short, it's a play where a shooter starts under the basket and gets choice of screens on each side of the lane.

Curry is covered with a nice switch by the Wolves with a soft double team. Then the Dubs try to flow into what looks like a post-cross with Draymond (yeah we covered that earlier too here), but it's broken up with a very athletic play by Lavine. The play ends with a dunk which I mercifully cut off.

Play Version 3. Simple Curl

Version 2 ended badly, but it isn't a total loss, because it gives the Wolves defense a new option to worry about if they ever see this formation again. Which they do on the VERY NEXT play.

And now for something completely the same. This play starts with (wait for it) Barnes on the right elbow. Curry and Klay cross under the basket. But instead of turning it into a Warriors Rip (v.1) or Floppy Surprise (v.2), they run a straight curl where Barnes tries to pin down Curry's defender with a screen.

I suggest you watch the play once for joy and then re-watch it and follow what Kevin Martin (Curry's final defender) does through the play.

Poor Kevin Martin. All he wants to do is guard Klay Thompson. But when Curry and Klay cross, Zach Lavine calls out a switch, so now Martin is on Curry. He sort of wrestles Curry away from Barnes, as if he expects Curry to screen for Barnes (threat of v.1) or come back for another screen (threat of v.2), or maybe it's just survival scrambling.

Curry darts around the Barnes screen, and Martin makes the bad decision to go under the screen. Martin quickly gets to Curry but he's a step behind and that's a half-step more than Curry needs.  Curry fakes the shot and does his patented side step escape dribble into a hop. Kevin Martin is so desperate, he grabs Curry's shorts. Doesn't he realize that if he pulls Curry's shorts, he has to pull them all the way down to stop Curry? Between that and not letting Curry land cleanly, that basket counts, plus the foul.

And golly that is a pretty bank shot.  Curry must lead the league in use of the upper third of the backboard.

Final Thoughts

The Dubs staff has wanted the team to get deeper into the playbook.  That means that they want multiple plays to run out of the same start, and for plays to have different options and counters when the defense overplays the first option.  This play is a nice example.

Having multiple options out of the same format keeps defenses from loading up on a single option. Last year we saw teams take away the first pass in a scouted sequence and the Warriors having to fall back on to basic options like the post-cross and pick and roll.  This year, the Warriors are starting to go to The Next Level.

The Explain One Play Series So Far