Earlier this season, the Thunder broke out a dribble hand-off play for Kevin Durant out of a horns set. They ran Durant off a staggered double pin-down screen, got him the ball on the move at the top of the key and trusted him to react to the defense and make the right decision with the ball. Last night against the Brooklyn Nets, they flipped the script.
This was the alignment on that first play.
Against Brooklyn, rather than having Russell Westbrook initiate the offense from the top of the key like he usually does when he’s on the court, Westbrook began this play in the left corner and Durant was the initiator. Kendrick Perkins again lineup up at the right elbow, and Kevin Martin was still in the right corner, but Serge Ibaka moved down from the left elbow to the right block.
Durant played the same role on this play as Westbrook did when the Thunder ran a previous variation of it earlier in the season. He entered the ball to Perkins at the top of the key, and then went to set the first in a string of screens for Westbrook. In turn, Westbrook filled Durant’s role from the previous iteration of the play, coming around multiple screens from the left corner toward the top of the key.
Using both Durant’s screen and Perkins’ dribble hand-off screen to create space between Westbrook and his defender allowed Westbrook to turn the corner with ease and get right into the lane. Deron Williams was already chasing him over Durant’s screen, and with Kris Humphries pressuring Perkins rather than sinking back to cut off the driving lane, Westbrook had free reign of the paint from the second he received the ball.
By the time he got below the free throw line, Westbrook had drawn the attention of no less than four Nets defenders. Williams was still chasing him from behind, Humphries slid off Perkins to try to get back to contest a shot at the rim, MarShon Brooks crashed down off Kevin Martin in the corner, and Gerald Wallace stepped up to the circle to try to take a charge, abandoning Ibaka right next to the rim.
Westbrook, like Durant, made the right read and turned it into a basket for the Thunder.