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Explain One Play: Curry screens for Durant, Green doesn’t chew anyone out

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This is the play for which Draymond Green chewed out Kevin Durant. Here is comparison video analysis of the recent Grizzlies’ game and the Heat game on Jan. 11, 2017.

Miami Heat v Golden State Warriors
Every day I’m handlin’
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

That fascinating Grizzlies’ play

So a lot of people had their say about that fascinating sequence at the end of the Grizzlies regulation which ended with Draymond Green lividly chewing out Kevin Durant. If the team grows from the event, it will be one of the most important plays of the year.

The whole clip is really interesting, so let’s check it out. The play begins with Stephen Curry with the offense breaking down and the shot clock low. Durant comes over but doesn’t set a screen, and confusingly clears out to midcourt. Zach Randolph is face guarding Durant all the way out to center court. Curry eventually fires up a three on the isolation. At this point, Klay Thompson digs out a huge offensive rebound. Now the famous part begins.

My favorite part is how Mark Jackson says, “If you’re Kevin Durant, Zach Randolph is defending you... get out of my way and look to make a play.” That’s exactly the difference between the Jackson and Kerr Warriors offense, and that attitude got Durant chewed out by Green.

You can see that Curry gets it to Durant, but Durant signals for an isolation. At this point, Green starts flipping out. Durant later reported that the play was for Curry to set a screen for him. So Green is yelling at Curry to go set the screen. Curry half-heartedly comes to set the screen, but Durant just stands on the logo and waves off the screen. If Durant is going ISO, he cannot settle for these long jumpers.

Durant reflects and learns

Our own Nate Parham covered this well with some good links. But the most important outcome I thought was Durant’s analysis afterwards:

Durant: Steph should have set the screen on me, and we should have put some pressure on the rim, and got two on the ball, kind of move the defense a little bit. But that was on me. I felt like I had a matchup I liked and... I should have let Steph set the screen. But it’s a learning experience.

Yup. Give Durant a break, he’s never had a point guard willing to set screens for him. We discussed what a great screener Curry is in Explain One Play: Stephen Curry butt-whumps for Kevin Durant dunk.

So, here’s what it looks like when he lets Curry set the screen tonight, with the Warriors hanging on to a 7 point lead against the Heat.

It’s really interesting that Curry barely sets a screen. He just gives Dion Waiters a shove and then slips the screen. Now how do you defend this? Miami tries to have Goran Dragic show and recover back to Curry. But you can see that, as a small, he is not used to defending the screener. His recovery back to Curry becomes a friendly fire screen on his own teammate Waiters, which gives Durant plenty of room to drive and rise up from his happy place at the elbow.

Final thoughts

There’s been a noticeable uptick in Curry-Durant pick and rolls since the Grizzlies collapse. Earlier in the year, it was important for Kerr to get the team’s motion offense gelling and not to have them relying on simple pick and rolls. But at some point, you need to actually develop game chemistry around the play.

And it’s going to be a crucial play in the playoffs. Sometimes when all the offense has been scouted, and it’s the fourth quarter, you just want a simple play that puts your best players in position to make a play. It turns out to be difficult to put Curry off-ball in the playoffs because defenses just grab and wrestle him. The refs are not calling those fouls, so they need a play with Durant and Curry on the ball, one screening for the other.

I’d really like to see a high Curry-Durant pick and roll/pop with weakside action of Klay Thompson curling off a flare screen. There might also be some deception with Draymond Green coming in as a second screen.

I also think about Phil Jackson’s triangle offense and Kobe Bryant. Bryant (and Michael Jordan before him) famously treated it as a 3.5-quarters offense. When it comes to crunch time, you want simple reliable plays. So for the Lakers, it was the Bryant-Pau Gasol pick and roll, which they saved for crunch time so teams wouldn’t get used to playing them. Same with the Warriors, I’d like them to not rely on the Curry-Durant pick and roll. But this is a good time of the year to start getting comfortable in it.

If you want to read more video breakdowns — one for well-nigh every Warriors’ win since 2015 — check out the Explain One Play Mega-Index, searchable and sortable by player, play, team and date.