The highlights are great. But so is the stuff between the highlights. Here are some things you may have missed from the last week (or so) of games ...
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The Bucks often run a set where Khris Middleton sets a cross-screen to get Giannis Antetokounmpo a post-up on the left block. But that isn't always the result.
Here you'll see the Bucks run the same play three times in the third quarter against Denver, getting three different results...
- Antetokounmpo goes above the screen and, instead of stopping at the block, he goes to set a screen for Eric Bledsoe. The Nuggets switch it and then Antetokounmpo goes back to the block to post up Jamal Murray. And with Brook Lopez (who made eight threes against the Nuggets eight days earlier) spacing the floor, Nikola Jokic doesn't commit to a double-team.
- Antetokounmpo goes baseline and Paul Millsap chases around the high side of the screen, so Bledsoe hits Antetokounmpo right away for a dunk.
- Antetokounmpo goes high and runs into another screen for Bledsoe, this one with his back to the baseline. With Malik Beasley helping off Middleton to tag Antetokounmpo's roll to the basket, Bledsoe throws a skip pass for an open corner three.
With other lineups in the game, the Bucks will sometimes run the same play for Middleton.
It was noted in this space last week, via an ATO play from the Miami Heat, that shooters can be the best screeners. Exhibit B is a couple of plays from the Wizards' crazy comeback against the Clippers on Tuesday.
On the first play, Bradley Beal starts out by setting a back-screen for Jeff Green at the right elbow, and Patrick Beverley loses contact with Beal in order to prevent a lob to Green. After faking a ball screen for Tomas Satoransky, Markieff Morris comes across to the lane for Beal. With Beverley trailing the play and Morris' man (Montrezl Harrell) sagging in the paint to prevent a drive from Satoransky, Beal is wide open for a three.
The second play is a simple pick-and-roll, with Beal setting a high screen for John Wall. Avery Bradley stays attached to Beal and Tobias Harris is late helping off the strong-side corner, giving Wall a clear path to the basket.
At 6-9 and 235 pounds, Tobias Harris often has a size advantage when he plays small forward. And the Clippers have a pretty simple play to use that advantage, with Harris ducking in from the weak side and sealing his man for a layup off a high-low feed from Marcin Gortat.
Here's Harris punishing DeMar DeRozan and Kelly Oubre Jr. with the duck in and seal...
REJECTION FROM ROSE
On two consecutive possessions against the Blazers on Friday, Derrick Rose pushed the ball up the right side of the floor, with a big man ready to set a screen for him to get to the middle. On both plays, C.J. McCollum "iced" the screen, putting himself between Rose and the screener to keep the ball from getting to the middle of the floor.
And on both plays, Rose was happy to reject the screen and use his quickness against the Blazers' bigs tasked with protecting the baseline. On the first, Rose gets by Jusuf Nurkic for a reverse layup. On the second, Al-Farouq Aminu is able to cut Rose off, but the former MVP just drops the ball off for Karl-Anthony Towns, rolling to the basket.
Pascal Siakam has come a long way since he was selected with the 27th pick in the 2016 Draft. In fact, he's come so far that, in a big game and on a team with Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard, Siakam is having after-timeout plays run for him to be the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls.
Here are a few possessions of Siakam playing pick-roll against the Celtics last Friday. The first and third are after-timeout plays designed for Siakam to run pick-and-rolls with Jonas Valanciunas. On the first, Siakam finds OG Anunoby for a corner three, thanks in part to a smart screen from Danny Green. On the third, Siakam rejects the screen, draws three defenders (perhaps missing a wide-open Fred VanVleet on the left wing) and a foul.
The second play appears to be an ad-lib screen from Lowry in transition that allows Siakam to take Kyrie Irving to the basket.
It may be time to add the 6-9 Siakam, a nominal power forward, to the list of this league's unicorns.
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