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Explain One Play: Draymond’s five massive blocks

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Draymond Green made big blocks, gave Harkless the Tony Allen treatment, and helped the Warriors pull away from the Trail Blazers in Game 1 on April 16, 2017.

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors - Game One
You see me I be block block block block block
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

That was a fun Game 1. The Blazers really came to play and Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum showed off their A-game on offense, making terrific shot after shot against pretty good defense.

That’s more or less what happened. In the second half, the W’s mixed in some traps on the Blazers’ guards. The POR supporting cast stepped up in the 3rd quarter, but couldn’t keep up in the fourth.

Let’s look at the game by examining Draymond Green’s five massive shot blocks, along with a key defensive change I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere: the Tony Allen treatment on Maurice Harkless.

Q1.1:39 Draymond Green blocks Allen Crabbe's 2-foot layup, GSW up 24-21

This is a neat play by the Blazers that starts off in HORNS (bigs at elbows, smalls at corners, ball high) and has three players curl around a screen at the right post. Interestingly, the Warriors often switch assignments on ball screens, but here they don’t switch on the first two curls (nor on the left elbow screen). In the meantime, Draymond Green waits like a shark (do sharks wait?) for the right moment to help on a drive to the basket.

The play has an unhappy ending of three free throws after the offensive rebound. Here JaVale McGee probably had the block, but Green came over, getting the block, leaving Meyers Leonard to get the offensive board.

The moral of this clip is that Green considers himself the goalie and final line of defense and freely helps off his man to protect the rim. I expect the Blazers to try to exploit this more by getting his man cutting to the rim.

McGee himself had a very nice game, with a few spectacular blocks and great hustle plays.

Q3.5:48 Draymond Green blocks Noah Vonleh's 2-foot layup, GSW up 73-72

This was an incredible play with an unhappy ending. The first part of the play has Lillard getting the ball on dribble handoff running around the arc and attacking Zaza Pachulia in pace. Lillard pulls up for the contested three, which I don’t think is a great shot. Then again, I didn’t think a lot of the Blazers guards shots in the first half were great shots, and they shot out the lights, so what do I know?

Then Klay Thompson counter-attacks...

Okay, so Klay Thompson had a bad game. And you’ve got to look before you pass. But I don’t know what Green was doing all the way back too far behind the play. Thompson starts to throw the pass back to the top to reset after early offense and no one is there. Thompson gives up on the play, which is not great. It wasn’t his night.

Then Green contests a three by Lillard and gets all the way back to the lane for a clean block on Noah Vonleh. That’s incredible. You can see the Blazer bench get up for the celebration, and then... did that happen?

Underrated part of this play: Stephen Curry hustles back, even though he’s trailing the play by 10 feet. I mean, it’s a two-on-one; no one would blame him if he gave up. 99% of the time, he’s not going to get a box score stat. But I think he sensed that Green might pull off something. So he hustles in, and gets the rebound from between the two Blazers. Hustle. But he just shoots threes, right?

Anyway, if you know Curry, you KNOW he’s going to get the ball to Thompson to let him redeem himself. He runs past Lillard and Vonleh, who don’t have an excuse to let Curry get past them except that they were dumbfounded by Green’s block.

Second underrated part of this play. Zaza Pachulia laying the heavy flare screen on Thompson’s defender to get him open. Curry passes to an open Thompson corner 3. Miss. It wasn’t his night.

We may never know whose mistake it was to let Harkless get the dunk, but I believe you can see Green pointing at Durant to pick up Evan Turner, and then Green switches to a trailer, forgetting to pick up the guy at the front of the break. Nobody’s perfect.

Q4.8:32 Draymond Green blocks CJ McCollum's 5-foot jumper, GSW up 97-90

The Blazers attack out of HORNS again to get Evan Turner curling around a Vonleh screen. David West shows hard on the curl as he and and Ian Clark double Turner. Vonleh rolls, but he’s met by... Green?! Where did he come from?

Green was guarding #4 Harkless, and for some reason the W’s gave him the Tony Allen treatment. Recall that in 2015 against the Grizzlies, Andrew Bogut played free safety and left Tony Allen unguarded. That’s what Green was doing in the fourth to help out on the guards driving to the basket.

Look how Harkless pops out to the arc early in the play. Green doesn’t follow or care. He’s going to stop the rolling Vonleh. As Green switches, notice how he signals that someone (namely Andre Iguodala) has to pick up Harkless. The Blazers spacing is off and Iguodala can guard both Harkless and Lillard at the same time.

Harkless was 1-6 from 3 point range, perhaps rusty from his multi-game refusal to shoot threes to preserve a contract incentive. Here he drives and all things considered, gets a not-bad shot at the rim which he misses. The rebound comes to Thompson, but he gets it ripped out of his hands by McCollum. It wasn’t his night. But Green is there and he swallows up McCollum’s shot, ricocheting it off Vonleh. A big stop.

Q4.7:35 Draymond Green blocks Evan Turner's 7-foot jumper, GSW up 101-90

This play starts with Lillard in the left corner facing up Iguodala. This time, the Warriors play Green as a goalie backup in case Lillard gets past Iguodala. Green is in theory guarding Harkless but in fact he is still giving him the Tony Allen treatment. Watch as the W’s cooperate to cover Harkless while Green plays goalie.

Harkless spaces out to the free throw line and Green ignores him utterly. But David West stays alert for a basket cut, and Ian Clark shades over to cut off the direct pass. Lillard makes the right pass, and Turner drives. Green reads the spin move all the way and stuffs him. The Warriors, unusually, don’t get a cheap foul by scrapping for the ball and instead let the Blazers scramble for a hopeless shot at the end of the shot clock.

Q4.4:46 Draymond Green blocks Damian Lillard's shot, GSW up 107- 99

Here’s the block of the night. Can you recognize the play?

The Blazers run High HORNS (see glossary) and Lillard uses the right pick to get a head of steam attacking Durant. Kevin Durant hangs tough and contests the shot from behind. This alows Green to jump knowing exactly what direction Lillard will attack the basket. Green gets up and meets LIllard at the top. Gorgeous block. After the game, Draymond Green also gave credit to Kevin Durant for staying with Lillard so he could “sneak over on the weak side.”

Pop quiz: why is Green available to help?

Because he’s giving Harkless the Tony Allen treatment and freely leaves him to do what he likes. Underrated: Curry dug out the rebound between two guys.

Another angle:

Final thoughts

The Warriors survived what felt like the Blazers’ A+ game (until they get Josef Nurkic back) versus the W’s B- game. Also worthy of breakdowns (but not by me): Ian Clark’s fine shooting and hustle (neat steal!), JaVale McGee’s energy and hustle (that great offensive rebound), and Curry’s fine drives and finishes.

Poll

What happens in Game 2?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    W’s win by double-digits
    (392 votes)
  • 11%
    W’s win by single-digits
    (55 votes)
  • 0%
    Blazers win by single-digits
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Blazers win by double-digits
    (1 vote)
  • 6%
    Not sure, but half of Twitter will be scolding Draymond
    (34 votes)
486 votes total Vote Now