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Explain One Play: Curry steals and throws down two-handed dunk

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Curry throws down the huge two-handed dunk, plus bonus JaVale McGee dunk from the Warriors-Timberwolves game on April 4th, 2017.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors
Throw it down, little man, throw it down!
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Steph throws down the two-handed hammer

Just enjoy it first.

The play begins with the Timberwolves setting up in a familiar formation. Can you identify it? Go have another look. It’s HORNS, with smalls in the corners, bigs at the elbows, ball up top. Andrew Wiggins turns it into an elbow pick and roll with Karl-Anthony Towns, who immediately slips the screen and rolls.

The Wolves are attacking Zaza Pachulia, who is a slow pick and roll defender, but the Warriors help Pachulia by having Matt Barnes double team blitz Wiggins. So Towns is free and rolling to the rim, right? Wrong. Draymond Green has been sinking into the paint playing goalie, and he rotates over to guard Towns.

Wiggins now has to find the open man while getting blitzed with his primary option covered. Stephen Curry knows where Wiggins is passing well before Wiggins does. Even as Wiggins picks up his dribble, Curry is already racing over to intercept this pass.

Curry is good at steals. Did you realize, among all his accomplishments, he actually led the league in steals for the last two years? And this year he’s #4. If Wiggins had made the long skip pass to Curry’s abandoned man in the left corner, that would have given Green time to recover back out. So, great anticipation and gamble.

Off to the races, and Curry describes his big tell indicating when he’s going to dunk:

Bonus play: JaVale McGee dunk

Have a look at this little play and see if you can see what play this is and how JaVale McGee gets open.

This is the W’s resetting into a quick second option, which is a dive-pop split cut. (Refresher: Durant Reverse Dunk and Curry 3 from Next Level Split Cuts.) You see Green is the passing post up high and Curry runs Rubio into McGee’s screen one way, then doubles back to run Rubio into McGee again the other way. At this point, Gorgui Dieng is defending McGee, but he jumps out to help on Curry’s pop out.

Now two men are jumping at Curry. You can see Green was waiting for this, as the moment Dieng jumps out, he passes the alley-oop to McGee. McGee is almost always alert to catch the alley-oop and easily throws it down.

The game in tweets

Final thoughts: the MVP race in tweets

Final final thought

My humble little video of the Wizards hypocritically firing up last second threes in blowouts really made the rounds, and I think it contributed to shutting down this overblown attack on JaVale McGee’s goofy last second three. (I defended it in more detail last column.)

I was pleased about this, but I felt a weird pang when I saw it get used in the San Jose Mercury News without a shoutout. And then it racked up 75,000 hits in a day, and it made me think, hmm, should I have monetized this in some way? Or used it to beef up my Twitter following? Or redirected this traffic to GSOM? (I’m sure Nate says YES.) Or done something more social media savvy?

Then I realized, I’m happy with what we’ve got here, and I don’t really want to attract lots of random people. There are practically never any foolish or immature comments on these Explain One Plays. I’ve only had good exchanges on Twitter with followers, which is quite unusual. Basically anyone who is curious about Explain One Play land has to be inquisitive and reflective. It’s a self-selection of cool people.

So thanks to all you readers and fellow basketball thinkers, who have taken time to dig into basketball a little more deeply along with me. I enjoy the comments, I love it when others point out new things in the videos, or bring up new questions, and I’ve learned a lot from you all. This is still my favorite place to escape from the world and think about sports.

(ps. My wife tells me I should at least have put a credit slide in the movie...)