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Explain One Play: Draymond Green to Kevin Durant backdoor dunk

Video analysis of the play that created a thunderous Durant dunk in the Warriors-Jazz game on Dec 8, 2016.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz
I’m gonna Vivent Smart OWN YOU
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

This is a quick look at two consecutive plays down the stretch of the Warriors-Jazz game. The Jazz to their credit kept the game within reach despite missing 80% of their starting lineup and getting pummeled in the first period and they had the Warriors’ full attention down the stretch.

With less than six minutes left, the Jazz had pulled within ten points. The Warriors, wearing down from the back-to-back and the altitude, needed a couple of scores to get a cushion they could ride to the end. Everyone had tired legs so jump shots weren’t falling, so the W’s wanted plays that got Kevin Durant cutting to the basket with screener help.

Try #1: Backscreen for alley-oop, right side

The first play they tried to run was a good old item from the playbook. Here are two old examples, see if you can see how the play works. Sorry for the artistic camera angles.

Longtime readers may recognize the play, discussed most recently at Explain One Play: Kevin Durant Alley-oops, Stephen Curry Screens. The play is simple. The ball goes to one side wing. On the opposite elbow a player will screen for the dunker who rip cuts straight to the basket. For instance, here the ball goes to Curry on the left wing, dearly departed Marreese Speights sets the screen at the elbow and Shaun Livingston dunks off the alley-oop pass.

So in this play, the plan is to swing the ball to the left to Stephen Curry, then have Kevin Durant (like the above roles of Iguodala and Speights) cut to the basket behind a Zaza Pachulia back screen at the elbow. Then Curry would hit him for an alley-oop dunk. So watch how the Jazz cover Durant as we see how the play unfolded.

The Jazz do a great job of cover Durant on his cut. Pachulia gets partial contact on the screen but Rudy Gobert, the French Rejection, the Stifle Tower, backs up to cut off any possible alley-oop.

You can see Curry get ready to throw the alley-oop and then break off to the next option when Durant’s covered. The next option is Pachulia stepping up to set a screen for Curry. Curry gets a perfectly good open midrange shot which he just misses. He had been really driving the big Warriors pushes all game and I think he started running out of gas.

Try #2: Backscreen for Dunk, Left Side

The Warriors then get a defensive stop and try a play similar to Try #1. The base of it is Durant will cut sideways from right to left above the free throw line and then veer down the left free throw lane line, getting a screen at the left elbow.

Here’s an example from earlier this year. You’ll see Andre Iguodala get the ball at the right wing and Durant will move sideways and cut hard down the lane (using Curry’s screen).

In tonight’s version, the right wing passer will be played by Green, the screener will be played by Pachulia, and the Durant will be played by himself. Watch the sideways drift, then the rip cut down the left side by Durant.

This time, Durant fools Gobert and Green hits him with a good pass. Durant makes the sweet athletic dunk finish.

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.

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