The Sweet Play
Buried in the Warriors' demolition of the Suns today was this gem of a play. First, let's just watch it for pure beauty.
That was a sweet between-the-legs bounce pass from Andrew Bogut to the cutting Stephen Curry, wasn't it? And it was flair with function because it's the most direct path for the bounce pass and the flair makes it hard for the defense to read.
Why This Is So Important
This is actually a set action from the Triangle Offense, and one I've not seen the Warriors run before this game.
First, study the very beginning of the play before Draymond Green passes to Andrew Bogut. In the usual Warriors flow, they reverse the ball across the top, so Draymond is trying to pass to Curry at the top of the circle. Curry's defender is playing between Green and Curry to deny the pass. Green cannot pass directly to Curry.
Teams are learning more and more that to gum up the Warriors offense, you need to deny the passes along the perimeter. The Spurs are building a whole league-smashing war machine defense emphasizing this principle. For a terrifying look, check out Mike Prada's recent analysis. So if a defense overplays the Warriors' passes, how can the Dubs respond? They need to practice and refine set counters to punish the defense for overplaying.
In this case, if the pass from the wing to the top is overplayed, the set counter is for Bogut to come to the free throw area to receive a pressure release pass. At the same time, Curry cuts to the basket right past Bogut. Since Curry's defender is overplaying him and has his back partially turned to Curry, Steph should be able to get a step on the defender as he cuts backdoor to get the pass from Bogut.
Curry now rubs his man off on Bogut's screen and has space for a short shot, which out of self-entertainment he chooses to cash in as a tough floater which he makes look easy.
If you want to rewatch the play even more, you can see that this counter has three options in it. First option for Bogut is to hit Steph cutting back door. Second option is for Bogut to hit Klay on the near side curling off the screen from Draymond. The third option is to take the shot himself (hard to imagine if it's Bogut, but if it's Barnes in the future, that's a good shot).
Blind Pig from the Triangle Offense
The Triangle Offense was the format for all of the championships of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Shaquille O'Neal (except for one which used the format of "Dwyane Wade gets foul calls"). We discuss it in more detail here. The triangle offense is quite literally responsible for the NBA careers of both coaches Steve Kerr (remember that guy? What ever happened to him?) and Luke Walton. This play above is a version of Blind Pig from the Triangle Offense, and it is exactly meant for releasing pressure if the pass from the side to the top is over played.
I don't know who named the action Blind Pig, but that's what Phil Jackson called it. Inventor Tex Winter's book The Triple-Post Offense gives it the far more bureaucratic name "No. 2 Pass Play, Forward-to-Forward Pass (Diagram 46) / (1) The Back Door Play."
Here is a blast from the past video of our friend Luke Walton himself executing a version of Blind Pig with a between-the-legs pass to an overplayed cutter. (Trigger Warning: Lakers footage.)
I know Klay went nuts in the 3rd quarter. I know Draymond had a triple-double in three quarters. But the most encouraging sign for me is that the Warriors have been working on their weakness to pass denial.
This issue has been more and more glaring, and I am looking forward to seeing the Warriors introduce and perfect more counters to this kind of pressure, like Blind Pig. The triangle offense has tortured Popovich's Spurs his whole career, so it can't hurt to import more of its reads and pressure releases.
Bonus Moving Dots
Here is the animation. There is a mistake - it's Bogut #12 of course that is the Blind Pig release, not #4. But the shape is right.