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Explain One Play: Draymond Green to Stephen Curry For A Game-Icing Three Pointer

This is a deep dive analysis on one play from last night's Kings-Warriors game.

No, you can't have my Chewbacca backpack.
No, you can't have my Chewbacca backpack.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

We're going to take a look at a key play from late in the Kings-Warriors game. There is about one minute remaining in the game and the Kings have pulled within 6 points. The Warriors need a good possession and a score to ice the game.

Refresher: Flare Screen

A flare screen is a screen that is set on a player's defender which allows the player to "flare" out behind the defender for a catch and shoot shot.

So for instance, we previously discussed this play, which ends with a flare screen. The first half of the play consists of Stephen Curry running around a triple screen and getting the ball. The second half of the play unfolds on the non-Curry side of the court (the "weak" side), where Klay Thompson gets a flare screen from Festus Ezeli, allowing him to go to the corner for a catch and shoot 3 after Curry passes him the ball.

(A weakside flare screen/cut to the corner plus a strong side drive ending with a pass to the weak corner is called a Hammer play, from the Spurs playbook.)

Tonight's Play

Tonight's play is actually spiritually very similar to the play above.  It begins with Curry running off a double screen and ends with a flare screen for a 3.  When Curry is covered (the Kings switch all screens), Klay receives the ball at the arcand immediately feeds Draymond Green in the post.  Now see if you can find the flare screen that gets Curry the open three.

Did you see how Harrison Barnes set a (grabby) flare screen on the back of Marco Belinelli keeping him from contesting Curry's three-pointer?  Belinelli probably was already too late to contest Curry, but with Barnes's surprise screen behind him, he had no chance.

Re-watching the Play

This play is rather rewarding to re-watch focusing on Rondo and Demarcus Cousins.

First, re-watch it to focus on Rajon Rondo. At the very start of the clip, he is guarding Curry, naturally. But as the ball reaches half-court, Rondo turns his back on the play and signals for Rudy Gay to switch on to Curry. Why would he do this?? And Rondo keeps his back to the whole play, perhaps keeping him from seeing that he has just switched himself onto Draymond Green. He seems surprised to see Draymond on the perimeter and he bolts out to guard him. Then as the ball is rotated to Klay, Draymond naturally calls for the ball given the self-inflicted mismatch.

As Klay feeds Draymond, Rondo falls to the ground exactly as if someone cannoned a dodgeball off the back of his head. I've rewatched the clip and I do not see any unusual contact between Draymond and him, either lower body or upper. It really looks like this is a straight flop. Rondo saw he was in trouble defending the post and committed flop hari-kari.

Anyway, as soon as Rondo hits the ground, the Kings are doomed since they are playing 4-on-5. Darren Collison rotates alertly to pick up Draymond, but that leaves Belinelli to cover both Barnes and Curry on the weak side. Barnes sets a huggy flare screen for Curry and it's all over.

Second, re-watch it focusing on Cousins. Did you notice how the second Rondo hits the floor, Cousins loses the will to live? He is so outraged by the non-call that he starts walking out of the play and as the ball goes through the net, he starts berating the official and eventually gets a technical.

Final Thoughts

This was the re-appearance of the Small Ball Death Squad (Curry, Klay, Draymond, Barnes, and Andre Iguodala). Notice how the Kings fought back with the unusual tactic of Even Smaller Ball Deather Squad: Collison (6' 0"), Rondo (6' 1"), Belinelli (6' 5"), Rudy Gay (6' 8"), DeMarcus Cousins (6' 11").  Yes, the Kings played wings that are even smaller than the Warriors Small Ball.

Fortunately, Green's post scoring is more confident this year, and he is definitely a threat to score on Rondo in the post. Which is why the Warriors immediately fed Green in the post. Also, the small wings could stay close to Curry with speed, but the Warriors countered that with good old fashioned weakside screening.

From the angle of Barnes's screen, it looks like he is screening to let Curry flare to the corner, just as in the Hammer play above, but Curry was just as happy staying at the wing. I like that the Hammer action seems to be part of the collective spontaneous toolbox of the team.

If you want to read more video breakdowns, check out the rest of the series of Explain One Play articles. For the full updated index, go to The Explain One Play series index.

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