So, that Warriors-Spurs Game 1, right? Pretty fun. It was also an exhibition in offensive coaching and running plays and organization versus isolation-style hero ball. It was also also Gregg Popovich vs. Mark Jackson. Gregg Popovich won.
Now, to be fair: Pop’s Spurs did run plenty of half-hearted pick and rolls and isolations down the stretch. But at the two most crucial points of the game – when the Spurs trailed 106-103 with 29 seconds left in regulation and 127-126 with 3.9 seconds left in the second overtime – Pop’s wizardry took over.
Let’s dissect that first play, when Danny Green nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 106 and eventually send it to overtime.
The Danny Green Three-Pointer
Where did you come from, so wonderfully drawn up play? Were you conjured out of thin air? Allow me to venture back into November, back when the Los Angeles Lakers were still teasing us. They were facing the Spurs at home, leading by one point and needing one stop to secure the win. Except Danny Green hit a three-pointer and kind of ruined things.
The play on the left is from that November game. The play on the right is from the end of regulation in Game 1 of Spurs-Warriors.
Wait a second, things are looking pretty similar here…
They wouldn’t run the exact same play for the exact same player, right?
Ok yeah, they would. And they did.
In November, Kobe Bryant got caught cheating in the paint, eventually running into his own man and leaving Green free for the three-pointer. (See the full play explanation here.) Our own Jared Dubin catalogued this play because it was so clever and unique and quite frankly just plain odd. Tony Parker was a decoy. Tim Duncan wasn’t really involved. They ran a game-winning play for Danny Green, of all people.
Last night, Popovich whipped it out again. Except this time, as you’ll see in the video below, Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack miscommunicate: Jack thinks they’re switiching, Curry doesn’t. The result is an open three-pointer for Danny Green. Again. Kind of funny, to be honest. Pop just pulled a fast one because why the hell not?
Here’s video of the play from November against the Lakers:
And now from last night against the Warriors:
As for Mark Jackson – well here’s what his crunch time possessions looked like at the end of regulation:
This isn’t an indictment of Mark Jackson – his in-game/in-season adjustments have been spectacular, especially in the last series once David Lee went down. But in this particular game, his players fell victim to Pop.
Manu Ginobili Game-Winning Three-Pointer
With 1.2 seconds remaining, Manu Ginobili hit a three-pointer to give San Antonio a 129-127 lead. He was wide open. So, we ask: how’d he find himself all alone?
The play is a relatively simple one: a double screen for Tony Parker to pop out up top, and a screen the screener kind of deal for Manu Ginobili with Boris Diaw.
Except when that second Diaw screen comes, Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes get a bit discombobulated. It appears that Jack thinks the switch is on. Harrison Barnes, who’s path is barely altered by Diaw’s screen (if we can even call it that) decides to stay with Parker.
Both players then follow Parker out to half court, while Diaw clears out space by running into Ken Bazemore. All Ginobili has to do, then, is pop out a bit to give some space.
Leonard hits him with the pass and Ginobili fires the shot well before Bazemore can shed Diaw. As for who’s to blame, we’ll probably never know. The switch could have been an in-the-huddle instruction or an on-the-fly adjustment. Either way, Golden State needs to clean up its crunch time defense.