Film Room: Thunder’s 4th Quarter Defense on Derrick Rose

After the worst three game stretch of his career, Derrick Rose broke out in a big way on Thursday. Despite getting off to a slow start against the Thunder, he scored 18 points in the second half and made some key plays down the stretch to give the Bulls a much needed victory.

While Rose was on top form, his performance was aided by some poor defense from the Thunder.

No. 1: The Sign

As gifted as he is offensively, Enes Kanter is a huge minus on defense. On Thursday, for example, his Offensive Rating was 100.4 and his Defensive Rating was 127.3 in 22 minutes of play, per Knowing that, the Bulls attacked him repeatedly in the pick-and-roll in the fourth quarter that led to a number of easy buckets. Unfortunately for Kanter, Russell Westbrook did little to prevent his teammate from getting stuck on an island.

On this play, Westbrook runs underneath Gasol’s screen — smart seeing as Rose is 0-for-9 from 3-point range this season — but peels back at the last second to stick to a popping Gasol. (A minute earlier, it should be noted, Gasol stuck a midrange jumper on a similar play.) While Kanter does a good job of contesting his floater, he fails to secure the rebound and Rose makes them pay on the second opportunity.

No. 2: Isolation

Running another pick-and-roll between Rose and Gasol, Westbrook does a better job of trailing the play and forcing Rose into a tough position. With Gasol popping to the free throw line, however, Rose has an easy escape and the Bulls compose themselves with 12 seconds remaining on the shot clock.

Rather than sticking with Rose, though, Westbrook runs out to Gasol and leaves Kanter guarding Rose on an isolation. With no help in sight — notice E’Twaun Moore clearing out — Rose dribbles the ball out to the perimeter, hits Kanter with a step-back and nails the jump shot.

Another simple play.

No. 3: The Foul

This time, Gasol rolls to the rim rather than popping, which forces Westbrook to follow him towards the basket. It also leaves Kanter guarding Rose yet again, which hasn’t been working too well to this point.

Instead of settling for another jump shot following the pick-and-roll, Rose takes Kanter off the dribble and draws a foul en route to the basket. Rose sinks two free throws and makes it a two possession game.

No. 4: Confidence

At this point, Rose is feeling it. He’s already taken advantage of Westbrook’s defense a number of times in the second half by blowing by for uncontested layups, sort of like this. He’s knocked down a couple of midrange jump shots, too, sort of like this.

So, while Westbrook wisely funnels him towards the baseline on this play, Rose is given far too much space to prevent him from making a move. Rose confidently rises for another midrange jump shot and knocks it down.

No. 5: The Step-Back

Another pick-and-roll, another switch, another step-back jumper. This basket was sort of a killer for the Thunder.

No. 6: Pau Gasol post-up

Here’s the problem the Thunder will be faced with all season long: Even when they made the adjustment of putting Ibaka on Gasol, giving them a far better chance of slowing down Rose in isolation, the Bulls simply exploited a different mismatch.

With a four point lead heading into the final minute of the game, the Bulls run another pick-and-roll between Rose and Gasol. Rather than taking Ibaka one-on-one, though, Rose calmly dribbles the ball out to the perimeter and feeds Gasol in the post with Westbrook guarding him.

Nobody helps Westbrook in the post and Gasol scores on a simple hook shot.

Ball game.

Film Room: Thunder’s 4th Quarter Defense on Derrick Rose

Film Room: Stephen Curry’s 3-pointers vs. Clippers

Stephen Curry knocked down seven 3-pointers against on Wednesday night, most of which came at the hands of poor defense from the Clippers.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

No. 1: Offensive Rebound

This is the beauty of having a stretch four like Draymond Green in the lineup. Following a pick-and-pop with Klay Thompson on the right wing, Blake Griffin is forced to close out on Green to prevent an open 3-pointer. Rather than boxing him out, though, he leaks out in transition, which puts the Clippers in a tough position — Jordan has to battle with Festus Ezeli underneath the basket, basically resulting in a 4-on-3 situation.

Lance Stephenson fails to put a body on Harrison Barnes and the Clippers get a second chance opportunity. Once Barnes grabs the offensive rebound, J.J. Redick makes the mistake of taking his eyes off of Curry and falls for a simple head fake when closing out. Curry takes one dribble into a 3-pointer and gets the shooter’s roll.

No. 2: Misdirection Screen

Teams often bait ball handlers in the pick-and-roll to settle for midrange jump shots by having their big man sag off. The problem: That doesn’t really work with Curry. Knowing that DeAndre Jordan wouldn’t outright switch, the Warriors took advantage in the second quarter by putting Draymond Green, who was playing center, in the pick-and-roll.

Curry’s second 3-pointer on the night comes off of a rather simple play: The Warriors run a misdirection in transition to get Austin Rivers out of position and Jordan is too far away to prevent him from taking a wide open shot. Curry rises for a 3-pointer within eight seconds of the shot clock and pushes the Warriors’ lead to 13 points.

No. 3: Pick-and-Roll

Less than two minutes later, the Warriors run a similar play. Off of an inbounds, Curry receives a hand off from Andre Iguodala — forcing Lance Stephenson to switch onto him — and dribbles off of Ezeli’s screen. Like Chris Paul, Stephenson gets hung up on the screen and Jordan isn’t in position to close out.

While Stephenson fouls Curry, he still knocks it down.

Just notice how far away Jordan is from Curry. Not ideal.


No. 4: Back Screen & Pop

Curry’s final 3-pointer in the quarter comes off of a nifty play call from the Warriors. Instead of bringing the ball up the court, Curry plants himself on the post and sets a back screen for Harrison Barnes. While simple, it’s enough to get Chris Paul and Austin Rivers confused — Paul wants to switch but Rivers fights over the screen, leaving the best shooter in the world unguarded.

After receiving a hand-off from Green, Curry rises for another uncontested 3-pointer. Blake Griffin isn’t quick enough to react and make up for miscommunication between Paul and Rivers, either.

No. 5-7: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Unfortunately for Jordan, the results weren’t much better when he did change his ways. First, Curry broke him down on a switch in the fourth quarter. (Maybe Paul shouldn’t pick him up from half court next time.)

Then, Curry pulled up from way out.

And then he did it again.

While those are more along the lines of the shots the Clippers will live with Curry taking, Jordan could’ve been more aggressive hedging and getting his hand up.

Film Room: Stephen Curry’s 3-pointers vs. Clippers

Play Breakdown: Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer takes down the Spurs

Bradley Beal continued his offensive onslaught on Wednesday with a 25-point performance against the Spurs. He shot 11-for-22 from the field and ended his night with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a 102-99 victory.

Let’s take a look at the ATO play Randy Wittman ran to set Beal up for the game-winning bucket.

Part 1: The Set-up

The Wizards rolled out a lineup of John Wall (PG), Bradley Beal (SG), Otto Porter (SF), Jared Dudley (PF) and Marcin Gortat (C) for the final possession of the game. The Spurs matched by going small, putting Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green on Beal and Wall, leaving Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and LaMarcus Aldridge to take care of the rest.

To start the play, Dudley inbounds the ball to Wall on the perimeter. Porter and Beal park themselves on the baseline waiting for their cue and Gortat stays close to Wall by standing at the right elbow.

No. 1

Part 2: The Switch

Once Dudley inbounds the ball he clears out to the baseline, where he is joined by Porter. Beal begins curling towards the perimeter while Gortat meets him at the left elbow for a screen.

Instead of immediately popping out to the wing for a 3-pointer — what would’ve telegraphed the play and given Leonard ample time to fight over Gortat’s pick — Beal runs towards Wall to set a brush screen, leading to some miscommunication between Leonard and Aldridge. Leonard, likely anticipating a pick-and-roll between Wall and Gortat, motions to Aldridge to switch and decides to hang back instead of chasing Beal.

Once Beal is in the clear, Gortat continues to play decoy by turning around and setting a screen for Wall, who keeps the Spurs guessing with a couple of hesitations.

No. 2

Part 3: The Fake

With Aldridge being a step slow on the closeout, Beal is able to get him out of position with a simple jab step towards the baseline. And thanks to Dudley and Porter pulling the help defense away by sticking to the corner, Aldridge is left guarding Beal on an island.

No. 3

Once Aldridge is out of the picture, Beal capitalizes on the opportunity by stepping to the side for a 3-pointer, à la Steph Curry, rather than pulling up for a midrange jumper. As I wrote last month for Sporting News, it’s the type of decision that will help him become an All-Star sooner rather than later because it will do wonders for his efficiency.

Notice, too, how Ginobili leaves Porter alone for a cut to the rim, likely expecting Aldridge to funnel him towards the baseline. With a few extra seconds on the clock, Beal could’ve hit him for an easy layup had they doubled more aggressively. Either way, the spacing is perfect and Beal works his way free for an uncontested shot.

No. 4

The Plan

With Beal and Wall combining for nearly 50 percent of the Wizards’ points this season, it’s no wonder the Spurs tried to slow them down with Leonard and Green. However, the play managed to confuse them just enough to force a switch and exploit probably the biggest mismatch on the court — Aldridge having to stick with Wall or Beal in an isolation.

It’s funny what Wittman can do when he actually puts pen to paper.

Play Breakdown: Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer takes down the Spurs