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NBA Playbook: Looking At a New Crunch Time Play

Once more Sebastian Pruiti puts together some good analysis in examining the Thunder's late game play-calling, which involved Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Be sure to follow the link so that you can see each stage of the play as it breaks down and see if you can understand the play better when you watch it in real time.

OKC's New Crunch Time Play | NBA Playbook

After you get a handle on how the Thunder executed this critical play, Pruiti gives some further evidence as to the multiple facets that can run out of a simple play where the Thunder's two best players run the pick and roll. 

A few more comments after the jump.


  • The great thing about using Durant as the high screener is that it enables both Durant and Westbrook the opportunity to do the one thing they do best. For Durant, it is the catch and shoot. For Westbrook, it is the drive to the rim.
  • Pruiti notes that in order for a team to deal with this type of combination, they have to play it perfectly and offers the Raptors' defense as an example. I still contend that while the decision-making on defense was sound, the breakdown in the play was really because Durant did not set a very good screen. Westbrook does not need much space to start his drive. Nobody is ever going to mistake Durant's wiry frame with that of Kendrick Perkins, but Durant has to make himself wider on those screens to create some more space.
  • Have you noticed that Nick Collison has become more and more of a recipient for the pick and pop play, and as such has been taking (and making) those 17 footers? It is the same formula, although Collison is typically going to be running it with Eric Maynor or James Harden. The next step in the high screen evolution will be working Serge Ibaka into the mix.
  • It is amazing how a play so simple could cause so much havoc. The key of course is in running it correctly. It requires a good screen and a tight cut by the ball handler to get into open space. We've seen what happens when the play formation isn't run as tight as it needs to be (See: Raptors and Hornets losses) so hopefully we'll see a tightening up of this play in the future.