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Explain One Play: Winning out-of-bounds plays for Durant and Thompson

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We look at two out-of-bounds plays in crunch time that put away the game in the Warriors-Hornets game on Jan. 25, 2017.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Charlotte Hornets
I don’t call the plays, the plays call me
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets played a tough game, but the Warriors turned on the defense and execution in crunch time and won it going away. The memorable plays were Stephen Curry tossing in long threes, Kevin Durant becoming an unstoppable foul-drawing machine and Draymond Green forcing turnovers and racing to fast-break layups.

But, in my opinion, this grind-y game really turned on two simple, pretty baseline out-of-bounds plays — or BLOBs. What a great acronym.

BLOB #1

With 2:33 left, the Hornets are down 104-101 in a real slug fest of a game. The Warriors have the ball, but the Hornets have twice defended very well to knock the ball out of bounds. There are 4.1 seconds on the shot clock. Time for Coach Steve Kerr and company to call a rehearsed BLOB play. Here it comes — don’t blink:

If you missed it, don’t be mad. The Hornets missed it, too, and so did the ESPN cameras. I had to go to the CSN feed to get proper video of this. Watch it again and see if you can see how Durant got open.

I’ll wait ...

Maybe this angle will help:

This is a great instant elevator doors play. Basically, Green and Andre Iguodala sneak in and close the elevator doors on Durant’s defender. The way to defend this play is that one of the defenders of the doors has to jump out. But it’s such a surprise (not any more after this game) that nobody can even move.

Quick pass, quick shot, now the lead is 5.

BLOB #2

The next play, Green comes up with a great reaching steal on Kemba Walker (right as Jim Barnett was complaining about all the reaching — I love Barnett, and he’s right, but Draymond is Draymond), then gets a fast break. But the ball is knocked out on a probable foul. Time for another BLOB called from the bench.

This one goes by fast, too.

If you are Nicolas Batum defending Klay Thompson, the main thing you want to prevent is Thompson cutting straight to the hoop. In fact, at the start of the clip, he is holding Thompson, standing between him and the basket. But he pivots to Thompson’s left side. Can you see why?

Go ahead and re-watch; I’ll wait.

Iguodala comes over to Thompson’s left and sets a big distracting screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was yelling, “KLAY, YOUR SCREEN IS HERE!” Batum notices, and he pivots to prepare to cut between Thompson and Iguodala, expecting Thompson to flare out to the left past Iguodala. Instead, Thompson cuts hard to the hoop, Curry’s pass is well-timed, very nice pump-fake, and ... Thompson sits on the ground. He can’t believe he missed the layup and a chance for an and-1.

I believe this was a set play with the fake screen. But it’s possible that Thompson just read the play and improvised, and Curry was quick enough to find him with the pass.

Thompson hits the free-throws, and now it’s a three-possession game with two minutes left.

The Warriors win going away.

Final thoughts

Whenever there is a play stoppage, the Warriors always call a set play which they’ll run on their next offensive possession. These are often called after-timeout plays (ATOs), and the Warriors are very good at them. I don’t know where to get the current stats on effectiveness of ATOs, but in this Reddit thread from last winter, the Warriors were second in the league at points per possession after a timeout.

Many of the plays I’ve covered in this series, including crowd favorites like Elevator Doors and Warriors Rip are ATOs.

The Warriors’ offense is fun to watch because it’s a nice blend of improvisation around principles, like jazz; individual spectacular skill; and set plays with intricate coordination, drama and deception. Remember Curry pretending to fall down on an Elevator Doors play? Go to the Mega-Index and search “celtics elevator-doors” to find the article. It’s a prime example of the beautiful art of deception.


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.