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Explain One Play: Warriors Weave a Shaun Livingston 3

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This is a deep dive video analysis of a play from the Knicks-Warriors game on Jan 31 2016.

"Your hair feels like sea cucumber."
"Your hair feels like sea cucumber."
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors had a herky-jerky first quarter against the Knicks due to general unflow plus Curry's uncharacteristically poor shooting. But in the second quarter, the Warriors firmed up their defense and got Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the offensive flow.  The play we'll look at happens at about the 8:00 mark in the second quarter, with the Warriors fighting back to a 29-27 deficit.

At this point, Shaun Livingston hits a three which gives the Warriors a lead they won't give up for the rest of the game. If you think it's unusual for "S Dot" to shoot threes, you are correct. It's his second three pointer of the season, and of his Warriors career (and only his 12th three-pointer in his career). All season, the team has been pushing S Dot to shoot the three in games.

From Diamond Leung, Oct 6 2015:

[Luke Walton says,] "He hasn't passed up any yet, but he hasn't gotten any yet which leads me to believe he's not hanging out around that 3-point line. Because on our 3-point line, you should get some threes with the way we move and the double-teams our guys demand."

....Walton smiled and says he has a bet with Livingston that the 30-year-old owes push-ups when he has an open look at a 3-pointer and doesn't shoot.

This is a very nice prediction of what happened tonight.

Refresher: The Warriors Weave

Before we get to the play, let's remind ourselves about the Warriors Weave. We broke this down in gory detail almost exactly a year ago: Understanding the Golden State Warriors' Weave. And the play is basically unchanged. The Warriors actually threw in a counter variation early in the year, but I've basically only seen them use the vanilla version. If you want the detailed breakdown, go to the link above. The very simplified version is, there is always a set sequence of dribble handoffs. Once the first pass happens, the two men on the low left are going to eventually end up in a high pick and roll.

For instance, here is a Weave against the Lakers so you see it without defense messing it up. The first pass goes from Stephen Curry to Draymond Green. On the first catch, look for who the two players are on the left side, closest to the basket. They will end up in a high pick and roll.

Okay, so the two men are Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut and they end up in a high pick and roll. Because the Weave worked so well, it barely looks like a pick and roll, since Klay's and Bogut's defenders got lost in the back and forth and the dodging of all the different players.

Weave Into S Dot's Second Three

So let's roll tonight's Weave. Look for the first pass, and identify the two Warriors closest to the basket on the left and predict the ensuing high pick and roll.

So, did you get it right?  The play ends up in a Klay Thompson-Draymond Green pick and roll.

Rewatch, following Klay's defender, #42 Lance Thomas. You can see that in the back and forth of the weave, he actually gets tangled up with his teammate #4 Arron Afflalo. He never quite catches up to Klay and gets hung up on Draymond's high screen. Kristaps Porzingis has to leave his man Draymond and sag back to tag Klay and stop him from driving straight to the basket. Klay throws the nice Curry-esque behind the back pass to Draymond, who attacks KP's closeout. Draymond drove past KP multiple times all game, including this time. Once he's past KP, it's a 5-on-4 play and someone has to be open.

Rewatch, following S Dot's defender, #13 Jerian Grant. S Dot initiates the play and clears to the left corner (this is part of the vanilla Warriors Weave play), so Grant follows him.  Once Draymond is past KP, only Grant can stop a dunk, so he nicely slides over to stop Draymond's drive. S Dot does a great job moving up the arc to make himself more available for the pass.  Draymond is becoming a pro at this finding the open man business, so he passes for the sweet 3.

Final Thoughts

I love how each Warrior gets excited for the other players' accomplishments. Sometimes they take it too far with the conceptual art games ("hey, let's only have Klay shoot it this quarter"), but it's much better than people arguing about touches or role. The W's like celebrating achievements by the individual players and they know what's a big deal for each player.

In this case, rewatch the video following the Warriors bench.  Curry immediately knows something momentous is happening, and he gets up as soon as S Dot starts to shoot. He's running down court as the ball is in the air, and he attempts (and I believe succeeds in) high fiving S Dot as he runs by. Then he frolics in the dandelions back to the bench. You can see four guys (including Ezeli and McAdoo in street clothes) are up pumping the three-shotgun.

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.