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Explain One Play: Andre Iguodala's last-gasp three saves the game for the Warriors

Video breakdown of the game-tying three by Andre Iguodala in the Warriors-Nets game on Nov 14 2015.

Do you want to win the game, or shall I?
Do you want to win the game, or shall I?
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

We're going to break down the play that got the clutch game-tying three by Andre Iguodala with under ten seconds left in the game. First, note that the Warriors are taking the ball out on the sideline with limited time. Every team has a small number of practiced plays for these "sideline out of bounds" (SLOB) situations.

The Play, Version 1 (Pass to Flare)

The Warriors have this lovely simple play where Shooter A throws the ball in-bounds to a big passer, such as Draymond Green. Then Shooter B comes over and sets a screen for Shooter A who runs to the top of the key and shoots. There may be other movement, but this is the heart of the play.

Here are two examples. In the first, Stephen Curry inbounds to Draymond Green, and then flares out using a screen from Klay Thompson.  In the second, Curry inbounds to Bogut and then gets a flare screen from Klay Thompson (again).

Yes, he misses both the shots, but the three is an open look, so the play has done its job.

The Play, Version 2 (Pass to Screener)

Now, there is a second option in this play. The screen is set by a shooter, so they might end up open in the play. So if the shooter flaring out is covered, or if you just want to get the screening shooter a shot, then the big passer can pass to the screener.

This is what happens in this very memorable sequence (the front end of probably the greatest back-to-back three-pointers in Warriors history). Play inbounds to Draymond. He will run in bounds and get a screen from Curry. The Pelicans switch so Klay is covered on his flare, but Draymond passes to the screener Curry who puts some moves on and hits a clutch shot.

The Play, Iguodala Style

Well, today the Warriors didn't have Klay Thompson. So they ran the play with Curry inbounding to Draymond Green, Curry running inbounds and flaring out past a screen from Andre Iguodala. Let's see how well you understood the preceding Version 1 and Version 2. Which version do they run against the Nets?

In version 1 of the play, Draymond would pass to the inbounder Curry.  But instead they do version 2 and pass to the screener Iguodala.

Watch the play again and note how Iguodala's defender hesitates for a split second as Curry runs by. He appears to pause for a moment to prevent the pass from getting to Curry. But this leaves Andre open. He recovers to Andre, but is now a half-step behind and scrambling. Iguodala does his best Curry imitation with an escape dribble, side-step ("side-steph") and hits a three in his man's face. Not an easy shot, but I believe he is now 3 for 3 on end of game clutch shots.

Of the shot, Iguodala said, "Obviously we're looking for a guy who's been doing it all for us this year and obviously the defense is keying in on him as well." It was a situation where Draymond Green had the option to pass toward Curry after Iguodala set the screen. "Steph's the first option, and they might help a little bit because I'm setting the screen so, I just got open and created some space and got a good shot up."  .... Some teams might force-feed it to their superstar in this situation, but the Warriors believe in letting everyone benefit from superstardom's gravity.

- from Ethan Sherwood Strauss's report

What's So Good About This Play?

  • It's simple and gives you two options for getting a 3.
  • When shooters screen, it is very hard to cover.
  • The player who inbounds is very dangerous and is often lost in the shuffle of movement.
  • t's built on plays already practiced and used in the offense. Sharp readers will notice that the in-bounds play is very similar to the "post-cross" or "guard squeeze" action we analyzed in One Play: Warriors + Triangle Offense = Barnes 3.  Yes, it's an in-bounds version of that play.

Up 3, To Foul or Not To Foul?

I guess this is still a controversy??  When you are up 3 points and defending with ten seconds or fewer, you have the option of fouling. If you foul while not in the act of shooting, then the player gets two foul shots so they can't tie the game.

Reasons To Foul

  • Player can't tie the game (most likely).
  • Even if the player is in the act of shooting, they are likely to miss one. At worst it will be tied and you have a desperate shot to win or go into overtime.
  • If the player manages to hit the three and have a four point play, well, that's very very rare.
  • This statistically works better than not fouling.
  • If you don't foul and the other team hits a 3, they will be super jazzed and crush you in overtime. Then you will be roasted alive in the press and fired. (See: Pelicans Game 3, the Curry 3 which directly followed the Version 2 play above.)

Reasons Not To Foul

  • Trust your defense.
  • That four-point play would be terrible.
  • If they hit the free throws, that puts pressure on you to hit your own free throws to keep it a 3 point game.
  • They could hit the first free throw and get the rebound on the second for a putback or Odin Forbid, a winning 3.
  • This strategy is an abomination and is exploiting a loophole in the foul shot rule.

In this very specific case, we're talking about Andre Iguodala, the most erratic free throw shooter on the team, so I believe you definitely have to foul him. The right time was when he caught the pass or did his escape dribble.

Bonus Pop Quiz

Earlier in the game, the Warriors ran this gem of a play to get an easy two points. Name it.  (Hint: it has appeared previously in the Explain One Play series.)


Let's see, we have Curry and Iguodala crossing under the basket, Curry veering up as if to use a screen from Draymond Green, and instead setting a back screen for Draymond Green. Iguodala gets the pass and rifles it to Draymond who rip cuts down the lane for a layup.

Yes, it is Warriors Rip, which we have covered in the last Explain One Play, but also the previous one! The Warriors have run it in three straight games and it's worked each time.  I'm glad other teams coaching staffs don't read this series...

Final Note

  • The older plays were pulled from a @HalfCourtHoops video. HCH has a very comprehensive video compilation of Steve Kerr-era Warriors plays that serious basketball nerds should check out.

The Explain One Play Series So Far


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