Kyrie Irving

Three videos of three plays that you might’ve seen during the Spurs game and not paid much attention to, yet they speak well to what’s going right and wrong with this team.  Usually these segments break down one single play on a frame-by-frame basis, but I figured a video is worth a thousand frames.

The Good

This highlights an aspect of DeRozan’s game that’s matured this year – his usage of screens.  In this play he’s, first, getting himself into a position where he can run a curl, communicating with Ed Davis that he’s ready, and then executing very well by brushing the defender against Davis.  Sure, the screen is borderline illegal, but it gets the job done and frees up DeRozan in a range where he’s comfortable shooting.  The floater is pretty much unblockable. A very important reason DeRozan’s shot is not contested is the slight movement of Amir Johnson towards the rim, which forces the defender to guard against DeRozan dropping off to Johnson. If Johnson doesn`t roll, DeRozan`s shot is heavily contested.

The Bad

We often criticize Bargnani for shooting from too far out.  In this instance, however, he’s guilty of not doing that.  The wing screen action has served its purpose here and completely freed up Bargnani for a wide open mid-range jumper after he moved well to take full advantage of his man briefly switching on Lowry.  Tim Duncan is late rotating and pretty much conceding the jumper.  Bargnani bails Duncan out by driving at a guy who has been on the All-NBA defensive team, basically begging him to take charge.  Duncan obliges by stepping in and is probably left scratching his head on why Bargnani, a noted jump shooter, didn’t just pull up for an easy mid-range jumper. Sometimes you just got to realize that you`ve beaten the defense and keep things simple.

The Ugly

This play highlights the terrible game Jose had.  He’s given up his dribble way too early under almost no pressure in order to make the pass to Davis for a post-up.  Let’s leave aside the craziness of Davis trying to post-up beyond the elbow for a second.  The early pick-up of the dribble allows his defender to sag on Davis, making the pass harder and taking time off the clock.  Davis has to come out to catch the ball and by the time he does, he’s well above the three-point line.  At this point, the play is going nowhere.  I’m assuming DeRozan comes over to set things right by presenting himself in the post, which he does well.  A great San Antonio double blocks his path on the baseline and Calderon is passed the ball to relieve pressure.  At this point there are about 4.7 seconds left on the shot-clock and the natural thing to do is to try to make a play on his own.  Instead, he throws a skip pass (which takes forever by the nature of skip passes) to Ross who, by the time he catches it, naturally has a defender all over him and takes a forced shot.