Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is a Neo-Impressionist masterpiece, a subtle story of modernity and degeneracy, urban and rural divide, and pet monkeys. It is also a pointillist painting, made up by uniform dots (anywhere from 200,000 to millions, depending on where you look) that each contribute to the story. They're all significant on their own, of course, but they're far more significant within the context of the piece's entire whole.
So too can a basketball game be told within and made up by individual points, plays created separately that coalesce into a painting. The Toronto Raptors' 128-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder was full to the brim of genius. It all combined to mean much more.
3:53, Q1: The first point of brilliance comes from the recently-but-no-longer slumping Pascal Siakam. He catches the ball in the post and faces up his defender. Too often his moves have been laboured, his back to the basket, his dribble protected, ending with hooks or other difficult looks. Not here. Siakam half pivots slowly, luring his defender, then jab steps right, rocks back to center, and immediately attacks right. The stutter rip is followed immediately by a spin move, a euro-step, and a layup on the other side of the lane. Siakam's pristine three-punch combo combined three of the toughest dribble moves in basketball, and he kept his balance and burst through the entire series. He has not been making moves like this recently. Foreshadowing a huge game, dominant in all three levels, and his best in the month of March.
10:49, Q2: Christian Koloko is in the game playing center instead of Precious Achiuwa. Achiuwa has had trouble containing the pick and roll recently, and his offense has been tentative, so Nick Nurse benched him in this one. Koloko has more size and has been more effective, in his minutes, at walling off the rim. In one of his first possessions, the Thunder test him in the pick and roll, and Koloko plays far too high, opening up a simple bounce pass to Dario Saric on the roll. Koloko, impossibly, recovers with immediacy and pins Saric on the backboard. He is out of position on the next defensive possession, a zone look for Toronto, but he teleports to the rim and forces another miss with verticality. He wins his 12 minutes by six points -- without scoring a point of his own -- largely because of his eminently playable defensive contributions.