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Explain One Play: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson Seal Game With 3s

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This is a video analysis of two game sealing plays from the Mavericks-Warriors game on Mar 18 2016.

Big Smokey!!
Big Smokey!!
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks played well tonight, keeping the game close the whole way and drawing to within 5 points with under 3 minutes to go. Then suddenly the wheels fell off, the hood popped open, the windshield melted, and the radio got stuck on an adult contemporary station.

Here are two plays from the Warriors run that sealed the game.

Play 1. Curry Gravitational Time Dilation

Okay, Dallas has finally cut the lead to 5. People are going nuts. The Warriors go to their bread and butter -- the Draymond Green - Stephen Curry pick and roll. (For more: Explain One Play: Curry & Green's Favorite Play.)

Or DO they?  They fake that, and instead Harrison Barnes comes up to set a high screen for Curry.

Now we often talk about Curry's gravity. Did you know that Einstein's Theory of Relativity says that near great gravity time actually slows down?  Everyone near the gravity well feels time going normally, but from the outside, everything crawls. That's what this play is.  Watch.

Near the Curry gravity well, the Mavericks issue a sluggish double team, then Curry tosses a slow sloppy outlet to Harrison Barnes, which actually bounces twice.  Now outside the relativistic time dilation, Barnes whips a crisp pass to Klay Thompson who cans a deep three.  Have you noticed the Klay is starting to expand his range? He's undoubtedly emboldened by Curry's launches.

How did Klay get open?  The Mavs double team Curry, so Barnes is open. J.J. Barea switches from guarding Klay to covering the open Barnes. At this point, Wes Matthews and Deron Williams have to cover Klay, Leandro Barbosa and Draymond Green under the basket.  He tries to get out to Klay, but he's too far away, and also looks sluggish from Curry's time dilation.

Play 2.  Same Play, Take Two

Now the Warriors expand the lead to 8 from Play 1, and then to 11 on a very nice Draymond pass to Barnes for a fast break and-1.  This is the play that put the game out of reach.

We'll see Klay (not Curry) bring the ball up this time, and he gets an early offense high screen from Draymond. The Mavericks double team Klay, and just like in Play 1, Klay releases the ball to the screener. Now watch the rest of the play.

Once the double team happens, the math says that somebody is open if everyone spaces well.  When Draymond catches it, the Mavs now have two defenders covering Curry, Barnes and Barbosa.  Curry flares out to the corner, Barnes screens Curry's defender, and Curry hits the open 3.

I like this look where Curry starts on the strong side and loops all the way under the basket. This makes it very hard on his defender, who has to watch the play on the strong side and decided whether to help on the Draymond drive, all while getting flare screened by Barnes and while having to track Curry behind him. Curry can sneak to the left wing or to the left corner behind Barea's back. Barea didn't know Curry was in the corner, until he saw the pass go over his head.

Did you notice that when Barnes reaches the free throw line, he makes a subtle "use my screen" signal for Curry? Just a quick left hand thumb pointing over his shoulder.

Final Thoughts

Let's hope Barnes's jump shot is starting to defrost. At least Barnes looked more engaged in the offense in the second half.

The tough game tonight, plus Bogut injury, makes the Warriors a long shot against the Spurs.  But the Dubs will always have a puncher's chance with Curry or Klay possibly making something out of nothing...

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.