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Explain One Play: All-Star Klay Thompson's upside-down elevator for All-Star Draymond Green's 3

This is a deep dive video analysis of plays from the Mavericks-Warriors game on Jan 27 2016.

23 versus 23. 23 wins.
23 versus 23. 23 wins.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

I think we're back to the Bored Warriors.

After three virtuoso games against the Cavs, Bulls and Spurs, where the Warriors settled all family business (read in Michael Corleone voice), they seem to be having an emotional letdown. In this case, the Dubs knew that with the Mavs shorthanded, they would need just five minutes of great defense to pull away. Today's play kicked off the run that finished off the Mavericks, with about 5 minutes left in the third period.

But before we get there, let's set up the clip with a refresher on back door cuts and the Elevator Doors play.

1. More Back Cuts

The Warriors this year have taken their playbook to the Next Level and countered aggressive pass-denial defense with a series of backdoor cuts. (Here are some against the Spurs, and here's another good one). Today, Klay Thompson repeatedly got to the rim with back cuts.  Here's a good one, based on an option from the Post-Cross play.  After some startup passing, the ball gets fed to Andrew Bogut in the post. Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry head towards each other for what everyone expects to be a screen by one of them for the other to pop out for a catch-and-shoot 3 pointer. Instead...

Yes, Klay does not use Curry's screen, instead he makes a sudden cut to the basket. He's so open that he has space to mishandle the ball, recover and get a layup.

Rewatch the clip to follow Curry's defender, Deron Williams. Notice how as Klay and Curry approach for what looks like a screen, Deron points out to Klay's defender Raymond Felton to be ready for them to switch on the screen. Right at that moment, Klay cuts and is gone.

2. Elevator Doors

This play probably needs no introduction, but it's fun, so here is a sample. The Elevator Doors play involves having two screeners act as the doors, and slam shut behind a teammate, walling off the defender.  Here's my favorite one (from Klay's 37 point quarter):

Anyway, there are a lot of clips on Elevator Doors. You can search our series index (The Explain One Play series index) for "elevator".

3. Upside-Down Elevator Doors

The thing that basically all of the Elevator Doors plays have in common is that the elevator passenger pops out away from the basket for an open three.  The Warriors pulled a twist on this that I've never seen before.  This play will, after some startup, have the ball passed to Bogut in the post again by Andre Iguodala. Just like in #1 above, the vanilla Post-Cross has Andre screening for Klay for a catch-and-shoot 3, and just like before, Klay back cuts right between the Elevator Doors (Andre and Draymond Green), and a scrum ensues:

Yes, Klay's defender Wesley Matthews gets completely burned on the back cut. But Klay is intercepted by both Andre and Draymond Green's men. Like a good lead blocker, Klay drives one man into the other, all while Matthews tries to recover to him, so Klay manages to occupy three Maverick defenders. Bogut waits for the dust to settle, and hits Draymond for an open 3.

To be totally honest, I'm not sure this was a planned Elevator Doors. 20% of me thinks it's a planned Elevator with the twist of the passenger cutting towards (not away) from the hoop. 80% of me thinks it was a mistake and that Draymond was supposed to not be there. He screens Klay's man on the initial pop out to the top, but that puts him right in the middle of the Post-Cross, bringing his defender into the play. He's probably supposed to be setting a weak side screen for Curry, who tries to make the best of it by back cutting towards the hoop.

Even if it was not a planned Elevator, the Warriors should consider trying it on purpose some time. It would have to be a total surprise, since the Door defenders are usually on the basket-side of the Doors, so maybe as a twist on the High HORNS set if the defenders both overplay to the outsides of the screens...

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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