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Explain One Play: Stephen Curry rides faraway elevator to a 3

This is a deep dive video analysis of a play from the Suns-Warriors game on Feb 10, 2016.

By combining our powers, we will become unstoppable, and get a healthy tax break as well.
By combining our powers, we will become unstoppable, and get a healthy tax break as well.
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors get to choose their own plays and sets the majority of the time, but whenever there is a stoppage of play, the Warriors coaching staff will always call the next play. In today's Suns game, the Warriors pulled out a new version of the Elevator Play as the first offensive play after a timeout.

Who doesn't love an Elevator Play? The Warriors love them too. They date back to the pre-Steve Kerr era, but the Steve Kerr - Alvin Gentry - Luke Walton - Ron Adams - Etc. Voltron has worked in quite a few variations of the elevator.  If you just want to see the new version, skip to the end.

In an Elevator Play, a shooter will run between two screeners towards the three-point line. As he passes through, the screeners act as elevator door and close up and stand side-by-side as a large screen separating the shooter's defender and the shooter. We have a longer introduction here: Explain One Play: Busted Elevator = Draymond Green beats the Clippers!

1. Elevator Up Top

Here is the classic version that predates Kerr. The elevator is set right up the middle at the free throw circle. This one is from earlier this year, when Brandon Rush announced his return to the league (Explain 1 Play: Brandon Rush Rides Elevator).

2. Elevator On The Near Side

This usually comes as an inbounds play, with the shooter starting right next to the doors and curling in. Here are a couple:

3. (NEW) Elevator On The FAR Side

Okay, I haven't seen this version before. This seems to be a third option after a standard two options from the Warriors offense. It starts with Curry feeding Andrew Bogut in the high "post" (see the Delay set at Explain One Klay: Thompson's Ten Threes).  Here's the play.

The first option appears to be the Curry backdoor cut, which gets nothing since Tyson Chandler is zoning the paint instead of guarding Bogut, a non-threat outside of 1 foot.

The second option appears to be the Klay curl around Bogut (which I guess we've never broken down... we'd better fix that in the second half of the season), but usually ends up with Bogut reading Klay's defender and pass to a Klay cut to the hoop or pop to a 3 pointer.

In this case, the Warriors go for option three, which is Curry sneaking back to the left side (remember his backdoor cut to the basket?) behind a double screen from Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes.  I guess this is not technically an elevator, in the sense that Curry did not enter the doors from the front. Let's just say Curry used a service panel to enter, because it acts just like an elevator play.  He gets the nice feed from Bogut, and he cans the open three.

Rewatch following Curry's defender, Archie Goodwin. He had to do work on this play. First, he gets completely lost by Curry on the backdoor cut. He gets saved by Chandler, and promptly runs into his own man. Then he lets up for a second because it looks like the play is a Klay-Bogut curl. Notice both Draymond and Barnes giving the "use my screen" thumb to Curry. Curry goes in the elevator via side service panel and Goodwin tries hard to catch up. He first tries to meet Curry on the high side and smashes full body into Barnes. He bounces off and still tries to get to Curry and smashes into Draymond. Another bounce. He's like the Coyote chasing the Roadrunner through a pachinko machine. Ouch.

But at least Goodwin is hustling. The defenders of the door screeners (Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker) don't even realize what's happening until they hear the weird rubbery bouncing sound as Goodwin hits the first door.

Elevators Look Cool

I wrote earlier:

This play is a real commitment to a player. It chews up most of the shot clock and doesn't have any convenient counters if a door defender switches out or if the shooter gets bodied out of using the screen. It relies on trickery, so you can't run it every play (too bad).

But it's a cool looking play, and sometimes you do just need one shot. The Warriors didn't in the game today, but it was a good time to practice.  If you like elevator plays, they're all over YouTube. And you can search The Explain One Play series index for elevator: we've got four other Elevator breakdowns besides this one.

Final Thoughts

As for this season, what can you say?

I started this series figuring I'd do one after every win. I figured that would be about 60-65 wins, given a little post-championship let-down. That turned out to be really wrong, as I had to write one for each of the first 24 games.

Instead, It has literally been the GREATEST SEASON IN HISTORY so far.

And Curry has been playing at a historically high level. Stats and the eyeball test show he's scoring at the GREATEST BULK EFFECTIVENESS IN HISTORY. (I don't count Wilt's records.)

It's a dream to have the Warriors playing (1) the most fun, (2) smartest, (3) most winning basketball of our time with (4) a team that is top to bottom fun of likable, honorable underdogs. Three years ago, I would have settled for just one of those.

Let's celebrate the dreamlike miracle we've already seen, for tomorrow isn't promised. And it's been even more special to share it with you here at GSOM. I learn a lot from you all, and I get inspired and comforted and generally have enjoyed the season more since you all can shake your heads at just how unlikely this whole ride is.

The Warriors have been so bad and hopeless and shameful for so long, it's as if the Basketball Gods are repaying decades of horror in one giant flood of fantastic basketball.

Have a lovely All-Star Break everyone!

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.

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