Early in Saturday afternoon’s match-up between Orlando and the Los Angeles Clippers, it looked like CP3 and Blake Griffin were ready to run away from the Magic. The Clippers were scoring at will, and the Magic were forced to play from behind for the entire first half, with deficits stretching into double digits on occasion.
But the easiest way to make up points in a hurry is to hit 3-pointers, and Orlando has several 3-point shooters, most notably JJ Redick. Redick finished Saturday’s game with 21 points on 8-14 shooting, including 4-8 from behind the arc. His first 3-pointer came off a nice misdirection/pin-down set in the first quarter.
Here’s the play:
Redick begins the play by passing to Nikola Vucevic in the very high post. He then uses Vucevic as a screener and cuts toward the basket as the big man passes along the 3-point line to Josh McRoberts on the right side. But instead of continuing to the basket, Redick hits the brakes and reverses direction back around Vucevic to the 3-point line.
An interesting side-note about Redick’s sudden reversal: If he had continued to the basket (and if McRoberts had thrown a nice pass), he probably would have had an easy layup.
As you can see from this screen shot, Vucevic’s initial screen was effective in rubbing Green off of Redick’s shoulder, and Redick has plenty of room to go to the basket. Caron Butler is the only Clipper who wouldn’t have had to spin around in order to make a defensive play on a layup attempt. If Redick got the ball on the glass quickly, Butler — coming from the opposite side — probably wouldn’t have been able to get to it either.
But the reason behind Redick’s decision becomes evident as soon as he passes Vucevic for the second time. Vucevic sets a nice pin-down screen that throws Willie Green off course, then rolls into the post. Had Redick not been able to get open, he would have been able to give Vucevic the ball in good post position.
Willie Green recovers from the screen pretty well, moving around Vucevic instead of running into him, which would indicate that he saw the screen coming. If the Clippers did their scouting, he probably did. Almost 30% of Redick’s offensive opportunities are Off-Screen plays, and using a big to pin down his defender is one of the most common ways the Magic use Redick’s shooting ability.
But Vucevic’s screen creates just enough room for Redick to get free, and when McRoberts passes the ball back to him, Redick rises up over Green and knocks down a deep 3-pointer.
Often, a team throws the ball to the other side of the court because the original play has broken down. This particular set was tricky because after the ball goes to McRoberts, the focus was still Vucevic and Redick, even though they were on the weak side. The motion and the misdirection make the play an effective way for a team to get a talented 3-point shooter a good look.
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