Last night was a momentous one for pick-and-roll nerds. (All three of us)
Another double P&R. All 4 teams tonight.
— Jared Dubin (@JADubin5) May 1, 2013
At 1:07 AM Eastern, the Clippers became the fourth out of the four teams playing to run a double pick-and-roll. I counted six times this particular action was run last night (thrice by Golden State, once each by Denver, Memphis and the Clippers), with the plays resulting in nine points for the offense.
Golden State was the first to take the plunge. For much of this series, and especially since David Lee went out in Game 1, the Nuggets have been trapping Stephen Curry as he comes around the screen on pick-and-rolls. To give him a little extra space, the Warriors send an extra screener here on this play.
Neither Faried or McGee is in any position to defend against a drive to the basket here. Faried has jumped out nearly to the three point line, but is nowhere near the lane created for Curry. He’s out of the play before the first screen is even set. McGee is too far over to the left side of the court. He’s at the left elbow when it’s clear from where the screens are set that Curry will be attacking the right side of the lane.
JaVale is such a good athlete that he actually winds up meeting Curry at the right elbow anyway, but at that point he is sliding too fast to capably change directions to keep up with Curry’s drive to the rim. Because Klay Thompson is stationed in the near side corner, Andre Iguodala can’t just abandon his man to crash down on the driving lane. Leaving a shooter as good as Thompson open for a corner three is a no-no.
The space created by the extra screener, the poor positioning by Denver’s bigs on the initial action, and the presence of Thompson to keep the help out of the lane combine to create a driving layup for Curry.
Golden State broke out this action twice more in the last two minutes of the half. In this instance, Faried plays it just as McGee should have above. As the second screener’s man, he jumps out to the left side of the screen and meets Curry out by the three point line, forcing him toward the sideline and giving Lawson enough time to recover to set the trap. Curry manages to generate a great look out of the play anyway by making a great pass over the top of the defense to Thompson in the corner, but Thompson – a 45.0 percent shooter from the corners – misses the shot.
The third time the Warriors wanted to run the double pick-and-roll, Denver came out with a new strategy for defending it.
Ty Lawson jumps out on the high side of the screen before it is even set and redirects Curry toward Kosta Koufos. Koufos completely ignores his man in order to set the trap on Curry. The result is Curry retreating toward half court before firing a pass to Carl Landry above the top of the arc, which allows everyone time to recover to their own man and guard against what comes next.
On the very next possession, the Nuggets try to run a double pick-and-roll of their own. Curry, much like Lawson in the previous play, jumps out on the high side of Lawson and tries to redirect him away from ever using the first screen at all.
However, unlike Koufos, Festus Ezeli hangs back near the lane rather than trapping Lawson before the screen can be used. This allows Koufos to reverse his screen and give Lawson a path to enter the lane. Lawson zig zags his way into the teeth of the defense, eventually drawing four defenders into the paint. The result is an open corner three for Wilson Chandler, who shot 46.9 percent from the corners this season.
The Grizzlies used the double pick-and-roll first in the evening’s second game. Early in the fourth quarter, Zach Randolph and Tayshaun Prince set screens for Mike Conley above the three point line, with DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe defending them, respectively.
The Clippers do a good job of defending the initial action. Jordan – guarding Randolph, the first screener – hangs back in the lane, while Barnes – guarding Prince, the second screener – jumps out to meet Conley at the three point line, just as Faried did in the second video above.
Barnes’ aggression redirects Conley all the way out toward half court, allowing Bledsoe ample time to recover. However, the play didn’t end there. Once Bledsoe scurried back to Conley, the Grizzlies brought Randolph over to set another screen, and the Clippers misplayed it. Bledsoe tries to jump out on the high side, but Jordan hangs back in the lane, which allows Conley a free drive to the basket. Conley’s driving layup doesn’t drop, but there’s no one to box out Tony Allen on the rebound, so he gets a tip-in for the basket.
Trailing by nine points with just under five minutes left in the game, the Clippers busted out their own version of the double pick-and-roll. As Chris Paul dribbles up the court, Matt Barnes feigns a screen and then clears out toward the baseline. This is when Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford come over to set the double screen.
Much like in the Knicks’ triple pick-and-roll, the back side action of Barnes and Bledsoe helps this play come to fruition. Had Bledsoe and Barnes simply been stationed outside the arc at the start of the play, it would be much easier for their defenders to help. However, because they’re on the move, their defenders are being dragged away from the lane as Paul is driving toward it, making the help much more difficult.
This puts Tony Allen in the lose-lose situation of having to guard both Jamal Crawford outside the three point line and Lamar Odom on his roll to the basket. Allen chooses to jump out on the possible three point attempt, leaving Odom wide open. CP3 reads the passing lane seemingly before it even opens, and Odom winds up with the easy dunk.