Plays you may have missed: Carter Jr. dropping dimes and more
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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AD LIBBING ON THE WEAK SIDE
The Nikola Jokic-Gary Harris two-man game is fun to watch! But while everybody is focused on that midway through the third quarter in Cleveland, Paul Millsap sets weak-side back-screen to free up Torrey Craig for a timely cut to the basket. This appears to be an action that Millsap ad libs into the play rather than standing still and waiting for something to happen.
ROOKIE DROPPING DIMES
Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. leads all rookies with two blocks per game and ranks second with 7.9 rebounds per game. But Carter also ranks fifth among first-year players with 2.5 assists per contest. And he’s not just handing the ball off to the Bulls’ guards, either.
Here are are a couple of nice reads from Carter after catching a pass on a pick-and-roll against the Pacers last Friday …
Rolling to the basket, making a catch, and then finding an open teammate when the defense comes to help is advanced stuff for a 19-year-old. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic had an extensive film study on Carter’s all-around skills earlier this week.
ROCKETS SWITCH THE SWITCH
The Houston Rockets probably switch as liberally as any other team on defense. And they’re fine with James Harden having to guard opposing big men in the post.
They’re not so fine with Chris Paul having to do the same. Last season, while Harden allowed just 0.73 points per possession on post-ups (the 18th best mark among 126 players who defended at least 50), Paul allowed 1.01 (the 12th worst mark among the same group), according to Synergy play-type tracking.
In Indiana on Monday, there were multiple times when Paul got switched onto Domantas Sabonis, and the Rockets did their best to replace Paul with a bigger defender when Sabonis took the point guard down to the low block.
On the first two possessions below, Carmelo Anthony recognizes the mismatch before an entry pass to Sabonis can even be made and is quick to replace Paul in the post, with Paul retreating to the weak side and finding another Pacer to guard.
On the third possession though, P.J. Tucker is a little slower to replace Paul in the post, Paul doesn’t identify his new matchup right away, and the Pacers find an open Victor Oladipo before Paul can recover out to the shooter.
GETTING ROOKIE IN POSITION TO SCORE
In Oakland on Monday, the Grizzlies were able to get rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. a pair of catches close to the basket via paint screens from their guards.
The Grizzlies’ starting lineup has scored a brutal 84 points per 100 possessions, the worst mark among 44 lineups that have played at least 50 minutes together. But Jackson has shot 68 percent in the restricted area, and getting him a couple of easy looks is important.
GRIII IS WIDE OPEN IN THE CORNER AGAIN
This is a cool screen-the-screener play from the Pistons to get a pair of wide-open corner 3-pointers for Glenn Robinson III in Orlando on Wednesday …
Robinson sets a screen for Blake Griffin, who then sets a screen for Reggie Jackson on the side of the floor. And as Griffin sets that screen, Robinson quickly escapes to the weak side. His defender (Evan Fournier) takes a second to help in the Jackson/Griffin action and has no chance of recovering to Robinson by the time the Pistons get it to him in the weak-side corner.
Alas, Robinson missed both open looks and is just 1-for-7 on corner 3-pointers this season, having missed another wide open look from the left corner with the game on the line against Miami on Monday.
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