Spurs (Pick and) Rolling at the Right Time
Yesterday afternoon the San Antonio Spurs showed that, although old and flabby like Roy Jones Jr., they’re still going to be a tough out for anyone in the Western Conference because of their ability to create offense off of the high screen and roll. Take a look at these two plays where a suddenly rejuvenated Manu Giniboli picks apart the Lakers P&R defense – and note, they didn’t just do this to the Lakers, but to just about everyone they’ve played recently as they’ve won 11 of 15 games with Ginobili and the Spurs putting things together at the right time.
This first video shows Duncan and Ginobili at the top of the key running a simple high P&R. Ginobili sets up Shannon Brown with a hesitation dribble that keeps him on the heels of his feet backing up. Ginobili is patient with the basketball and waits for Brown to back up to the point to where he’s parallel to Duncan before he makes his move. His hesitation dribble is good enough to where Gasol believes that he’ll cross over, and he ultimately shows on the wrong side of the screen. With Brown tangled up with Duncan and Gasol playing to Ginobili’s right hand side, the defense has failed what it needs to do. Walton comes over to help late and ends up fouling Ginobili who proceeds to knock down both free throws.
In this second video, the offensive set starts the same. Watch how Duncan comes up to set the screen. Like a good running back in the back field who looks straight ahead to not tip off which direction the play will be going, Duncan runs straight up to the top of the arch and only turns his body right before the screen is set. I know the Lakers are supposed to be running the triangle, but the Spurs high P&R is a legitimate read and react offense. Ginobili, like in the first video, is dribbling with his left hand. As he raises the ball to set up the crossover, you see Gasol hedge over to his left side, anticipating the hesitation dribble again, which Ginobili correctly reads and drives to his right and knocks down and tough floater over Lamar Odom and Gasol.
At this point in the game, Ginobili was in his take over mode, so we didn’t see the effectiveness of the delayed roll by Duncan which is run how Kobe and Gasol run theirs. But you can see, if Ginobili decided to pass, Duncan was wide open cutting through the lane with Richard Jefferson wide open in the corner. Kobe would have definitely collapsed on Duncan if he caught the ball and no one would have been within 15 feet of Jefferson. This is the same play they’ve been running for years when Bruce Bowen would sit in that corner. Now it’s Jefferson, Roger Mason or Matt Bonner. If George Hill’s ankle injury isn’t a bad one and Tony Parker can come back healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs found themselves in another WCF.