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Explain One Play: Stephen Curry no-look very bad man pass to a Harrison Barnes three

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Video breakdown of plays from the Warriors win against the Lakers on Nov 24, 2015.

The Old and the Beautiful.
The Old and the Beautiful.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is a fun little play from the competitive part of the Lakers-Warriors game, which is to say, the middle part of the 1st quarter.  The play starts with the most popular Warriors set for early offense (which we trace back to the 7 Seconds or Less Suns), then ends with chaos which Stephen Curry settles with a pass with extra flavor to Harrison Barnes for an open three-pointer.

More Seven Seconds Or Less Suns

To set the scene for the Warriors Early Offense, we go back to the ancient days of the 2000s Mike D'Antoni-coached Phoenix Suns.

We discussed this team in detail last Explain One Play. This revolutionary team from the mid-2000s ran a thrilling offense which tried to run on every possession, whether the other team had made it, missed it, or turned it over, and tried to get a good shot in 7 seconds or less (7SOL) before the defense could get organized.

Here is a classic example of the Suns getting a rebound and running.  You will see that they don't even have a numbers advantage, and they don't care, they still run. They just have pace, moxie, a good screen and Steve Nash.  Here's the clip.

It may not be obvious, but they are actually running a play, not just flying downcourt. The rebounder passes the ball ahead to Steve Nash, who gets an immediate screen from Amar'e Stoudemire. Do you see where the other two players are?  They've run ahead to the corners. This makes it impossible for their defenders to help with the Stoudemire-Nash high screen and roll. The screen gives Nash a half-step, Amare's defender can't help or Amar'e will get a clear lane to the basket for a dunk.  Nash runs by a confused looking Dirk Nowitzki for a layup.

For a 2015 Warriors fan, this play probably looks familiar. But for 2006, it was wild for a team to push the pace and attack 4-on-5 like this.

Play Part 1: Warriors Early Offense

The Warriors have adopted this idea into their own offense. Their starters will run on anything, but it's not a free-for-all. There is a specific structure similar to the 7SOL Suns.  Andrew Bogut gets the rebound and gives it to Stephen Curry to push the ball ahead. Draymond Green will set a very high screen in the middle of the court for Curry. Two shooters run to the corners (here Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes).  Curry is going to miss this shot, but notice how open he is, and how the Lakers defenders respond to the play.

Clarkson is Curry's defender and he's immediately hung up on Draymond's screen. The two Lakers bigs look confused and afraid to come out to the arc even though Hibbert's man (Bogut) is at half court, and Julius Randle's man (Draymond) is way above the three point line.

Early offense puts pressure on a defense and this one looks tired and disorganized. Curry gets a great shot, but misses. But the play is not over because you can see the Black Falcon starting to swoop in.

Play Part 2: The No-Look, Very Bad Man Pass

Curry's shot misses, and Harrison Barnes out-soars a very very old looking Kobe Bryant for the offensive rebound at the start of the following clip.

Barnes wisely gives it to Curry at the top of the key. Kobe jumps out at Curry to prevent the three pointer. Curry now decides to literally attack 1-on-5. He fakes out Kobe, then drives right at the whole rest of the Lakers team. Seriously, all 4 other Lakers are in front of him. He knows Kobe is behind him, and he sees Harrison Barnes spotted up on the right wing.

So he very efficiently throws an off-the-dribble, behind-the-back, no-look, backwards very hyphenated pass to an open Barnes.  Poor Lou Williams is the only one contesting the play and he has to guard both Klay and Barnes open for 3. He's like a goalie on a penalty kick who has to guess one way or another and he dives towards Klay. (Orthodox defense suggests he should close out on the ball and make Barnes pass and let someone else rotate to Klay.)

Barnes hits a sweet warmup jumper.

The two Lakers bigs continue to drift with the tides in the lane. Randle doesn't move more than a yard for the last 15 seconds of the play even though his man Draymond is spotted up for an open 3.

Final Thoughts

Seven Seconds Or Less Suns were fun and good. The Warriors have purified and strengthened the 7SOL concepts and plays. The Warriors Early Offense is great and represents a healthy portion of the offense.

If you thought this Early Offense play looks a lot like Curry and Green's go-to play, the high pick and roll, you are correct. This is the same play, except done at high velocity.

This is a dispirited Lakers team and I can't really tell what the defensive scheme is. The Warriors clobbered the Lakers and never really left preseason second gear.

So far, I've managed to pop out an Explain One Play for every Warriors game this year (except the Memphis 50 pt blowout).  This means, of course, that I am personally responsible for the undefeated start. However, this Friday I might not be able to do one due to family obligations. So Warriors, you may have to start pulling your own weight without me. Fly free little bird!

Midterm Quiz

Here is a play ripped straight from the NBA highlights package. If you can identify this play with no hints, you get an A.

Hint 1: It's one of the plays covered in Explain 1 Play: Awesome Curry Bank Shot And-1.

Hint 2: It's a play covered in detail in Explain One Play: Curry Screen = Barnes Dunk AGAIN


The Explain One Play Series So Far

Offense

Defense