Warriors Movie Study: Dubs Win Against Rockets By Keeping It Simple
Some assets escape most people’s awareness because nothing of note has happened. But sometimes what didn’t happen during a possession can be the most telling.
Take this one in particular, for example, during the second trimester. With Stephen Curry handling the ball, Kevon Looney sets him a high ball screen near half the pitch. the Houston Rockets – which turned almost every ball screen on and off – opted to change this particular ball screen, which required Christian Wood to take Curry around the screen.
Seen this from Curry’s perspective, the process is certainly solid. Jalen Green stunts and leaves Andrew Wiggins open momentarily at the top of the arc, leaving the three-point shooter 41.3 percent open before a timely spin from Kevin Porter Jr. closes the window. The Rockets defense then pulls away from Otto Porter Jr. in the corner, with Wiggins making the right read by whipping the pass to Porter for a great shot that just missed.
Or take this possession, where Curry forces another switch on Wood:
It’s an example of “productive passivity” from Curry, who passes out from the game and chooses to watch a wing dribbling transfer between Porter and Wiggins. Again, from Curry’s perspective, the process is solid: Wood has to bond with Curry, which clears the way for someone else – in this case, Wiggins – to drive and score at the rim. .
But it’s those episodes of Curry’s passivity — even in the face of a favorable mismatch — that can often lead to frustration. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get Curry back to his vintage MVP form. He may be averaging 26.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, but his scoring efficiency is seeing an unprecedented drop.
The shooting gaps are not characteristic: 42/38/91, on 58.9% of real shots. Not counting his injury-shortened 2019-20 season, the last time Curry posted a true shooting mark below 60% was during the 2012-13 season — nine seasons ago.
The three-point struggles are noteworthy, but I would say it was his two-point effectiveness that was most alarming. Shooting 48.2% from two – on track to be his third-worst two-point shooting mark and the first time he’s shot below 50% from two since the 2010-11 season – isn’t ideal , especially in the middle of a three-point shooting crisis.
Curry’s shooting issues fueled his bouts of passivity, while his passivity led to a lack of pace and consistent flow – a crippling feedback loop serving as the culprit for his mid-season slump. But when Curry decides to go aggressive, some looks are the result of a good offensive process. When Curry chases lag, he often gets the shots he desires.
On that possession, he gets another match with Wood, albeit in a different way from the previous clip:
The Warriors run a staple game: double-drag screens turning into low-post split action. The double drag forces Wood to switch over to Curry. After the message is entered, Looney places the screen down on Wood. Curry has a look that’s just missing.
To Curry’s credit, as the game progressed, his mindset changed from passive to aggressively chasing Wood. When the lowest fruit is there to be taken, the answer to its difficulties – and the team’s difficulties, by extension – is to go for the simplest solution.
Whether on brush screens, high ball screens or quick bursts of relocation, Curry found scoring opportunities against Wood, who was out of his depth to defend a dangerous offensive force on the perimeter.
The continued setting up of high ball screens for Curry has been a constant topic of discussion throughout Steve Kerr’s tenure as head coach. It’s no secret that Kerr has tried to avoid a traditional pick-and-roll-based offense that the majority of NBA teams run, opting for a movement offense that utilizes Curry’s off-ball chaos. coupled with an equal opportunity score. and game making.
The Warriors have always been among the more conservative teams when it comes to managing pick-and-roll possessions. This year was no different; they average 14.3 pick-and-roll possessions, which constitute 12.7% of their total possessions – third in the league. Only the Denver nuggets and the brooklyn nets perform fewer pick-and-rolls.
While Kerr’s reservations about ground spread and ball-screen action for his best player have been well-described, that doesn’t mean Kerr completely abhors it. When the situation calls for it, he releases Curry and a scouting partner – usually Draymond Green – on two-man action, which often results in short-term 4-on-3 situations born out of two defenders attaching themselves to Curry around the screen. .
With Green out, Kevon Looney and Nemanja Bjelica filled the void as Curry’s partners on ball screens. While lacking in athleticism and verticality, Looney can roll downhill and finish on the edge when Curry gets trapped. Although he lacks the short-term foresight of Green, Looney can also serve as a competent backup capable of getting the correct readings.
Bjelica, on the other hand, is the closest approximation to Green in terms of short-term play, with the added dimension of being a pick-and-pop threat. Together, Looney and Bjelica continually put up ball screens for Curry that led to effective offensive possessions against the Rockets, especially during tough times.
With the way this Warriors offense has been battling – 26th in offensive rating over the last 26 games, starting in their opener against the Phoenix Suns – one would assume that the Critical Time Offense has been something of an Achilles heel for them.
The Warriors’ 14 wins in clutch situations this season — defined as the final five minutes of the game with five points or less — have mostly been won on the defensive end; their 92.7 defensive rating in the clutch ranks third. On the other hand, their 105.2 offensive rating in clutch situations is a mediocre 19th.
The concept of keeping it simple can also apply to late game situations. When the going gets tough, the answer is as simple as placing your faith on your superstar’s shoulders.
Which was evident on the game’s final possession, on Curry’s first game winner of his career.
After the game, when asked what he drew during the timeout, Kerr was candid with his response.
“Give the ball to Steph and get out of the way.”