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Explain One Play: Klay Thompson sweet three restarts Warriors blowout

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Video breakdown of one play from the Warriors win against the Suns on Nov 27, 2015. 

Easter Island soars again.
Easter Island soars again.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is a quick look at a play from the Suns game that turned the tide and re-established the blowout.  The Suns had fought back gamely in the second quarter and outplayed the Warriors to get the game within 10 points.  The Warriors needed to settle down so they ran this basic play from their version of the Spurs playbook.

The Spurs Playbook: Motion Strong or Motion Weak ?

We've previously discussed how the Warriors have borrowed some of the Spurs playbook.  It was a great idea for Steve Kerr to install plays from the Spurs motion offense, since they are discrete learnable packages of plays as opposed to the Triangle Offense (which gave Kerr an NBA career!), which requires a team to develop lineup-wide rhythm and common reads of the defense.

We've covered Spurs actions like Loop and Hammer.

We also noted many Spurs plays begin with the same action where there are two players down near the post and three players across the top.  We said in our first installment: Here is a rule of thumb to identify Motion Weak and Motion Strong. If you see three Warriors across the top of the court, and the ball swings from one side of the court to the other, it's probably a Spurs Motion play. When the initiating guard stays on the original "strong" side of the court, it is called a Motion Strong play. If the guard initiates and then cuts across to the other "weak" side, it's called Motion Weak.

So here is your first quiz. Which set is this play, Motion Strong or Motion Weak?  (Stephen Curry is the initiating guard, and he starts on the right side near the top of the Pistons court logo .)

Curry starts on the right side (top of the video) near the top of the Pistons court logo and cuts towards the basket and back out again ending up on the left side, the other weak side. So this is a classic Motion Weak play.

Rewatch the clip and focus on Klay Thompson from the start. While the three players are maneuvering up high, down in the paint, the important part of the play to note is Klay sets a screen for the other low Warrior (Draymond) and then cuts straight up to the top of the arc and gets a screen from the center man and receives the ball.  If he's open, he shoots it. If his man followed him over the screen, he can attack the basket.

If you want to see a Motion Strong start, go to the first installment.

Which Motion Against The Suns?

Okay, let's get back to the Suns game.  The Suns are making a run, it's 67-57 with under two minutes in the half. The Warriors pull out this old play. See if you can tell if it's Motion Strong or Motion Weak.

Curry initiates, cuts to the weak side. This is a Motion Weak play. And did I fool you?  It's exactly the same play as above. Klay starts on the right side, comes over to screen for Harrison Barnes, then zipper cuts straight up to the top, gets a screen from the central man Draymond Green, and hits an open three.  13 point lead, and the Suns never really got back in the game.

You can rewatch the play and focus on Klay's defender, Eric Bledsoe #2. He sees Klay start to set a screen under the basket and chooses that second to peek at the ball. Klay cuts quickly and leaves him many steps behind. Bledsoe not only has to get around Draymond's screen, but also Jon Leuer #30. Bledsoe actually shoves Leuer out of the way, to no avail. It's also interesting to rewatch focusing on Leuer. He guards Draymond up top and watches the ball intently on the right side. He has no idea that Klay has cut behind him until the pass goes by him and he's being shoved by Bledsoe.

Bonus Animation

Here's another view of the same play. Watch Curry #30 initiate and then cut in and back out to the weak side. In the mean time, see Klay #11 screen for Barnes #40 then zipper cut to the top getting a screen from Draymond #23, and canning the 3.

The Explain One Play Series So Far

Offense
Defense