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Explain One Play: Stephen Curry butt-whumps AGAIN for Kevin Durant dunk

Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry’s butt set screens for Kevin Durant points in two key out-of-bounds plays in the tight Hawks-Warriors game on Nov 28, 2016.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Golden State Warriors
I mime a butt up in the air sometimes, singing A-O, gotta let it go
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In a tight, grimy game like Monday’s Hawks game, every easy point is valuable. One source of easy points is a well-executed in-bounds play. This is the only situation when a coach can put players exactly where you want them and have them completely synchronized. These are usually called out-of-bounds plays, or sideline out-of-bounds (SLOB) or baseline out-of-bounds (BLOB) plays, depending on where the in-bounder stands.

Let’s look at two key set plays from Monday’s fourth quarter.

1. Quick rip for Durant

This is an old play which the Warriors used to run for Harrison Barnes, back before he made the max. Here are a few old examples — see if you can see how the play works. (Hat tip to @HalfCourtHoops for the video.)

I think you get the idea, but Klay Thompson stands at the low post, Barnes stands at the same side elbow. Barnes cuts straight down the lane side past a Thompson back screen. The key is to have a shooter set the screen, since their defender won’t want to switch away from them, and there isn’t really any other way to defend it.

This play should work with Kevin Durant in Barnes’s role, right? Yep. Don’t blink, though. It goes fast.

You can see Thompson step up for the back screen. Durant rips down the lane, and Thabo Sefalosha can only grab him to prevent the dunk. Thompson’s defender, Kyle Korver, needed to switch. You can see the Hawks turning to glare at Korver at clip’s end — two free throws in a tight game down the stretch.

2. Stephen Curry’s gluteus maximus

I think I used up all my butt jokes in Explain One Play: Stephen Curry butt-whumps for Kevin Durant dunk, but I’ve been banging the drum this year praising Curry’s screening. As far as I can tell, he is the scorer that sets the most screens and the best — certainly more than Mr. Triple-Double Westbrook (as discussed in the article linked above).

This was the play that basically sealed the game with 1:28 left.

Same idea as #1: Use a scorer to set a hard back screen on Durant’s defender and let Durant cut straight to the basket. Very nice, well-timed pass from Draymond Green.

This is a tough play to defend. Curry’s defender has to switch to Durant because everyone else is occupied: Durant’s defender is screened and Green’s defender has to stay in Green’s area, since Green can hit a three-point shot. Thompson’s defender is chasing Thompson around an Andre Iguodala screen on the weak side, and Iguodala’s defender, Paul Millsap, now has Durant about to dunk on him and Thompson coming around behind him. So even if he can challenge the Durant dunk, Durant can just lay the ball off to Thompson.

The play happens — wait for it — because of Curry’s screen which he lays out with a well-placed butt whump. Here are some different angles of his butt whumping:

Hang on, wrong video ...

Ah, here we go:

There was at least one other score off a BLOB, around 1st quarter, 3:00 left that took everyone by surprise — including the TV broadcast producer who missed most of the play. And the action gave Durant a quick open baseline jumper.

In summary:

  • Steve Kerr, good out-of-bounds plays creator.
  • Durant, good scorer.
  • Thompson, good screens.
  • Curry, good screens ... with butt.

If you want to read more video breakdowns — one for every Warriors’ win since 2015 — 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.