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Explain One Play: Busted Elevator = Draymond Green beats the Clippers!

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Video breakdown of the Warriors' game-winning out-of-bounds play against the Clippers on Nov 19 2015.

Draymond Preens
Draymond Preens
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was an exciting game.

This is a quick breakdown of the game winning out-of-bounds play. It goes by fast, and Andre Iguodala does a nice dance afterwards, so here is the play to be viewed for sheer pleasure.

It goes by fast, huh? There's actually a mini-drama in those seconds,  which we will spell out. We'll see that the Clippers aggressively blew up the primary option on the play, and the Warriors coolly responded.

Aggressive Clippers Defense

First let's recall the situation. The Warriors got down 23 points through a combination of unsustainably hot Clippers shooting, foul trouble for Curry and Green, plus maybe sustainably excellent Clippers defense. The Clippers game plan was to:

  • aggressively attack the (frustratingly) lazy Warriors passes that start their plays, both across the top and into the post
  • aggressively double Draymond and others in the post
  • grab, bump and hold Stephen Curry

It worked beautifully for the first half. In the second half, the Warriors eroded the lead with good defense until they poked out to a 1 point lead with a minute left. The Warriors were inbounding the ball with 5 seconds left on the shot clock. They need a great called play to get a quick shot.

Elevator Doors Play

The Warriors call the Elevator Doors play. Let's quickly look at how the play is SUPPOSED to work. In the following two examples, you will see two big guys standing near the elbow. Then a shooter will loop around and scoot out between the two big guys (the "doors"). The big guys lean together, closing the elevator doors, preventing the shooter's defender from following him through the doors.

Watch the play a few times to get the hang of what's supposed to happen, until you can pass this quiz:

Quiz: Who are the doors and who are the shooters?

Quiz Answer: (Play #1) Klay Thompson scoots between Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green; (Play #2) Stephen Curry scoots between Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes.

Now rematch the plays, but look at what the defense does in response. In the first clip, Klay Thompson's defender tries to wiggle through the doors, but is too late. In the second clip, Curry's defender takes the long way around the doors, and is too late.  It's hard to defend the play!

Broken Elevator Doors

So how can you defend this play? You can imagine that either the defender can scoot through the doors in time before they close, or one of the defenders of a door can switch to cover the shooter.

This is exactly what will happen in the play tonight. Curry will scoot through the doors, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes will be the doors. Curry's defender (Chris Paul) is going to scurry through the doors. At the same time, Blake Griffin is guarding Draymond Green, and you'll see he switches off of Green to jump out at Curry.  So look what happens.

It probably went by fast so rewatch it but just follow what Draymond (the left door) does. He sets up and lets Curry through the doors, and the split second Blake leaves him to jump out on Curry, Draymond cuts hard to the basket. This is the counter if the door defender leaves the door! The Warriors used the Clippers aggression against them.

Nice pass from Andre, simple layup, and though the Warriors needed one more stop, this was the crushing blow and the game was over.

Bonus aggression: notice how DeAndre Jordan is guarding the inbounds pass and he completely turns his back on the inbound and sells out to first stop the pass to a cutting Klay, then to stop the pass to Curry on the wing. That makes him out of position to stop DG. I think DAJ is better served getting close to Andre inbounding and waving his arms and legs and generally making it hard to inbound instead of trying to read the play with his back to the passer.

Final Thoughts

I believe the Warriors were expecting the Clippers to aggressively attack the first option, since the Clips had been generally doing a great job all game of pressuring the Warriors' first option and getting in the passing lanes. So I believe Draymond was prepared to cut as soon as Blake switched.

It was probably a mistake for Paul to shoot the gap AND for Blake to switch, and I think the mistake was Blake's. Paul can't switch onto Draymond from his angle, and Blake even saw CP3 had made it through. My read is that for the last few years, Blake and Paul have been aggressively blitz double-teaming the perimeter, and only this year have the Clippers changed their defense. My guess is old habits kicked in for Blake.

Archival Video Credit to @halfcourthoops, who kind of obsessively has cataloged many NBA playbooks on Youtube. Check him out there and on Twitter.

The Explain One Play Series So Far

Offense
Defense