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Explain One Play: Curry dunks AGAIN, West takes over, Spurs fade

Stephen Curry continued his revenge tour against MVP candidates while David West turned back the clock with great plays in a shocking comeback Warriors’ win over San Antonio on March 29, 2017.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Throw it down, old man! Or finger roll, that’s cool too.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The game, in tweets

The veterans absolutely came through and showed Steve Kerr who can handle the pressure. Andre Iguodala was +17, Shaun Livingston was +18, and David West was an incredible +24.

Stephen Curry’s second dunk of the season

It all begins, as do most good things with the Warriors, on defense. Meanwhile, the Spurs have Manu Ginobili and David Lee, in one of the oldest pick-and-rolls on the planet.

Lee has had a career reboot with the Spurs, and I’m happy for him. He was basically the first notable free agent to come to the Warriors and I’ll always appreciate his role building the organization and winning the championship. But Lee seems to fit better with the Spurs’ methodical, slower-paced offense.

Anyway, Livingston and West will ICE the pick-and-roll, meaning Livingston forces Ginobili away from the screen and West will sag back to contain Ginobili’s drive. Ginobili threads a beautiful, veteran pass to the rolling David Lee who looks like he will sneak a layup in when suddenly ...

West reaches in and ties up the ball. Iguodala saves the ball from out of bounds, Livingston gets the save and feeds Curry. Now the team tracks Curry’s dunks, and penalizes him fractions if the ball hits the rim or if there are other dunk impurities. Curry makes a simple dunk and I believe he will get full marks.

David West, fourth quarter pick-and-roll machine

Just as Lee fits the Spurs better than he fit the W’s or his other teams, West seems to fit better running the Warriors’ motion offense and screening in the pick-and-roll/pop compared to his time with the Spurs. Tonight, he showed off all parts of his game in the fourth quarter. Here’s a highlight reel, followed by my very brief notes:

  • Iguodala runs a high pick-and-roll with West (combined ages 33 + 36 challenging the Lee-Ginobili, 33 + 39, for oldness). Pau Gasol sinks back to contain Iguodala’s drive, then chills in the lane. He actually looks to see West is open and he still doesn’t go out. Gasol seems ready for a break, and West hits the sweet mid-range jumper.
  • Curry and West run the pick-and-roll. The Spurs ICE the pick-and-roll, so Kawhi Leonard follows Curry and Lee drops back to contain Curry’s drive. Curry hits West, who cuts at just the right angle to get past the sagging Lee. West misses the short floater but stays with it and gets the nice hustle putback.
  • Very next play, Curry runs another pick-and-roll with David West. Same ICE coverage, same pocket pass from Curry to West. Lee is ready this time to stay with West, but he gives the old guy too much space and West drains another jumper.
  • Another Curry-West pick-and-roll. Same ICE coverage, same release pass to West. This time, he hits the sweet finger-roll finish. Notice Leonard guarding Draymond Green on this play, and how Green tries to stand far away in the corner to keep Leonard out of the play.
  • This was just a screw-you play. The game is basically over. Curry just burned the Spurs for a layup, and he runs around LaMarcus Aldridge. Notice Green setting the flare screen on the back of West’s defender as the team clearly wants West to shoot the three. Mission accomplished.
  • West blocks Lee’s layup. Oh, the many times we saw that unfold in Lee’s Warriors’ days!
  • This is earlier in the fourth with Klay Thompson running the pick-and-roll with West. They showed a lot of composure to start this give-and-go with the shot clock at four. That’s a really nice pass and Ginobili loses Thompson for just a second and gets burned. West LOVES to hit the backdoor cutters.
  • This is the legendary David West to Ian Clark backdoor cut connection.
  • This is a simple dive-pop split cut (refresher here). Feed West as the passer, Ian Clark, dives to the hoop, letting Thompson pop out and shoot a three right through Ginobili’s hair.

That is, by my count, 18 fourth-quarter points from West’s shooting or passing.

Final thoughts

Dub Nation has been begging for more pick-and-roll action, and they got it. The Spurs’ defense is too good and too smart to get sliced up with motion offense. Their defenders are good team defenders, but Gasol, Lee, Parker and Ginobili are not great man defenders. That means they can defend a motion offense better than a pick-and-roll/pop. That means against the Spurs especially, it’s important to put them into pick-and-roll situations.

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.


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