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Explain One Play: Crunch-time W’s execute Steve Kerr plays to win

Steve Kerr called all the right plays down the stretch and the W’s executed them perfectly, to edge out the PIstons on Dec 23, 2016.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Detroit Pistons
My crane style is unbeatable!!
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

That was a fun game, wasn’t it? Steve Kerr called all the right plays down the stretch and the W’s Small Ball Death Squad (KD Edition) executed them perfectly, to edge out the PIstons tonight.

Sometimes readers jokingly(?) say that I shouldn’t give away the Warriors secrets. I always reply that every team has multiple smarter, better-equipped people pumping out video scouting reports, so the teams already know. It’s just a matter of whether they can act on the knowledge. For instance, every single play the W’s ran in the last two minutes has been written about in Explain One Play this season. So today will be a midterm quiz for experienced readers, and a list of further reading links for newer readers.

2:15 left, DET 108-107

Do you recognize this action (from the start until Andre Iguodala gets it)?

This is the next level split cuts action that I’ve been calling Dive/Pop. The ball goes to a passer (Draymond Green) in the post, two shooters (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) converge and suddenly one dives to the basket, one pops out for a three. (This is covered carefully in Explain One Play: Durant Reverse Dunk and Curry 3 from Next Level Split Cuts).

The play is covered pretty well when Iguodala’s man switches to cover the diving Curry, so he swings the ball out to Iguodala. The Pistons recover and Iguodala has to create, so he drives. At this point, Andre Drummond makes the questionable decision to play goalie instead of covering Green. Luckily for him, Green misses (he needs to see the Shot Doctor Ron Adams again for booster lessons), but Iguodala comes up with a great hustle rebound. Open 3 for Durant.

1.37 left, tied 110-110

If you’re a long time reader, you really should be able to identify this play.

Ball goes to the sideline, Curry sets a surprise backscreen on Green’s defender. Curry’s defender won’t want to switch due to fear of leaving Curry open, so Green gets a dunk. The optimal play is to switch or for Curry’s defender to grab Green as he goes by.

I’ve been calling this Warriors Rip, and apparently Ethan Strauss knows the actual internal name:

Well, I’m going to keep calling it Warriors Rip, sorry. Last year, the Dubs used this every game for a while until the league finally caught up. But now the league seems to have lost its immunity, so they’re running it again. Here’s an example from this year’s Raptors game, exact same play:

And to honest, Coach Stan van Gundy probably told the Pistons to look out for back screens by smalls, which is why he lost his mind as the play unfolded. (Go look.)

1:03 left, GSW leads 112-110

This was the killer. Klay Thompson was shooting poorly this game, and yet the W’s call a play for him. That’s because he was being guarded by a smaller defender:

Thompson can elevate to shoot over practically every smaller defender. So here’s the play.

The first part is what we’ve called Loop, where a shooter loops along the baseline and gets two or three screens in the short corner areas. Reggie Jackson hustles his tail off chasing Thompson around two screens. Great job. Then Jackson stays with him on the drive and makes a great contest of the shot. Unfortunately, Thompson is still taller and he calmly tosses in the elbow jumper.

We talked about Loop at Explain One Play: Klay Thompson loops for an Andre Iguodala dunk. Here’s another example with Curry looping baseline and getting two screens.

0:30 left, GSW leads 114-112

This would clinch the game. Just like last play, Thompson is guarded by Jackson, and Jackson is still shorter. Here’s the play.

This is a fake Durant-Curry pick and roll which distracts the defense from seeing Klay getting a screen to flare out to the wing for a catch and shoot 3. We discussed this thoroughly at Explain One Play: Steph and KD get open 3s from fake pick and roll.

Here’s another example of the W’s running a very similar play with a fake Curry-JaVale McGee pick and roll becoming a Durant flare out for an open 3.


If you want to read more video breakdowns — one for almost 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. And I might have a breakdown myself trying to keep up with the W’s this year.

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