Well, that was a close, hard-fought, exhausted win for the very short-handed Warriors tonight!
Let's look at a play from a happier time, way back in the nostalgic reaches of the late second period when the Warriors had a comfortable double-digit lead, Curry had not re-injured himself, and the children were all above-average.
For your pleasure, I've broken this play into three parts.
Part 1. The Original Play, Pop Quiz
Long-time readers should be able to answer this. What play is this and how does Denver defend it?
Okay, this is a Floppy play, discussed in great detail before. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson play ring-around-the-rosie under the basket and then fly out using screeners at the sides of the free-throw line.
Draymond Green bumps Klay's defender with a screen, which would leave Klay sprinting out for an open three, except that Green's defender, Danilo Gallinari #8, switches out to defend Klay.
Klay's original defender Gary Harris #14 bolts out to catch up to Klay. If you know your math, you can see that this creates a double-team on Klay so the Warriors challenge will be to find the open man. Exercise: predict who the first open man will be.
Part 2. Finding the Open Man
As you might imagine, Klay's man is guarding Klay, Draymond's man is guarding Klay, so Draymond will be open. In this next sequence, you will see a great cat and mouse game as the Nuggets scramble well to cover the open man and the Warriors keep moving the ball to the open man.
- Klay immediately passes out of the double-team to the temporarily open man Draymond. I love this pass. It is quick and decisive and practiced.
- Bogut's man the Energizer Bunny Kenneth Faried #35 rotates to cover Draymond, so Draymond looks to pass to Bogut, but
- Faried's hyperactive D gives Curry's man, Jameer Nelson #1, time to rotate to cover Bogut, so Draymond actually passes to the open Curry, which...
- causes Andre Iguodala's original defender Will Barton #5 to scramble to contest a Curry three-point shot (he actually has to bolt all the way out from the paint from his unnecessary dropping down to defend Draymond), so
- Curry pump fakes and drives past his man. He see Faried has dropped down off Draymond to cover Bogut, provide help in the paint and rebound, so he whips the ball across court to the now-free Draymond open for three,
- and then Iguodala's defender Gallinari rotates over to cut off Curry and makes a good play by deflecting the pass!
Part 3. Lucky and Not Lucky Tremendous Dunk
Let's reflect for a second on what has happened so far in this dense play. The Warriors began with a typical Floppy play. Klay makes a great pass out of the blitz as a counter to the Nuggets overplaying him. The Warriors rotate the ball crisply to the open man as the Nuggets hustle their gold-panning butts off. Then Curry's pass is deflected and oh my god, it goes right to...
Andre Iguodala. This is obviously a very lucky deflection. But what happens next is NOT lucky. In a typical deflection out to the arc, the play has to reset. But in this case, the Nuggets defense is already an off-balance mess due to the play and Andre Iguodala is open because his man Gallinari left him to defend Curry (and deflect the pass)!
So Andre drives and when he gets to the middle of the lane, he has so many good options as the Nuggets defense collapses on him. In fact you can see Bogut is directing him to kick out to the open Curry on the left wing (option 1). He could also have kicked out to the right corner for a Draymond 3 (option 2). Instead he takes option 3 and dunks the heck out of the ball.
Did You Notice? The usual wild bench celebration is very muted because, well, there's almost no one on the bench, and half of those on the bench have been ordered by doctors not to strain themselves.
And Now The Whole Play
For your pleasure.
- This is the Next Level of the Floppy play for Klay, as teams are starting to blitz him more and more since unlike Curry, Klay has yet to prove he can handle the pressure.
- The Nuggets were not very coordinated on their rotations, but made up for it with excellent hustle. The Warriors did a fine job reading the court and finding the open man.
- Curry threes may be the most beloved play at Oracle Arena, but in my experience, nothing gets the crowd up as much as an Andre Iguodala dunk. For me, it's because it's usually unexpected and he usually takes off a little farther out than I expect, so there's the whole "is he going to make it? is he going to pull a hammy?" tension during flight.
- This is a very rare example of the lead image actually being from the play we're discussing!
- Let's hope Faried is all right! I love his motor and hustle.