Out of the Timeout: The Spurs’ baseline pass to the corner


In our Out of the Timeout series this week, we look at the baseline pass play that the San Antonio Spurs run to get an open 3-pointer in the corner, a play often run on the final play of quarters.

To begin this play, Tony Parker (1) brings the ball up on the side of the player who will run the pick-and-roll. Parker could also determine which side he brings the ball up by the side of the floor that he wants to shoot on. Who knows? In this case, he dribbles up court to Manu Ginobili’s (2) side of the floor.

The San Antonio Spurs baseline pass to the corner play

When Parker does that, DeJuan Blair (4) goes to the ball-side mid-post and sets up shop. Richard Jefferson (3) pops out to the opposite wing. Theoretically, Tim Duncan (5) passed the ball in on the other end of the floor, so he’s trailing the play and he hangs out near the top of the key.

The San Antonio Spurs baseline pass to the corner play

Manu Ginobili cuts down towards the baseline and then curls to the top of the key off a screen from Blair. When Ginobili gets to the top of the 3-point arc, Parker passes him the ball. Richard Jefferson makes his way to the corner on the weak side of the floor.

The San Antonio Spurs baseline pass to the corner play

When Ginobili gets the ball, Duncan sets a pick for him at the top of the key, and the two run a pick-and-roll away from Parker’s side of the floor. As this is happening, Parker shadows the Ginobili-Duncan pick-and-roll all the way to the corner. Ginobili takes the Duncan pick and attacks the basket, though he doesn’t make much of an attempt at getting to the rim.

But the threat of Ginobili attacking the basket is so great, that it forces the defender guarding Blair to take one step towards the middle of the lane and Parker’s man to help on both Blair and Duncan rolling to the basket.

This is all the space the Spurs need. Ginobili lets his momentum carry him out of bounds and he makes a crisp pass to the corner where Parker is spotted-up. Parker, as he’s done all season, knocks down the 3-pointer (he’s 3-3 from behind the arc this year).

[Update: Actually, this wasn’t a 3-pointer. I finally listened to the audio on the clip and apparently Parker had his foot on the line. Way to go Tony, make the most inefficient shot in basketball.]

This play is one that Parker and Ginobili easily interchange in. Sometimes it’s Parker running the pick-and-roll and other times it’s Ginobili. George Hill also easily fits in.

The thing about this play is that everyone knows what the Spurs are going to do, but seeing a player jump out of bounds to make the pass is so unnatural, it’s almost difficult to defend. I played against a team in high school who ran a similar play and even though we knew it was coming, it was so hard to jump out of bounds and intercept that pass because something just didn’t look right.

Let’s go to the moving pictures:


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  • sj_papi

    We getting Udoka back?

  • jwalt

    This play was first run for Brent Barry against Phoenix in the playoffs a few years ago (it bounced around for about 3 seconds and finally fell in). It’s a tribute to Pop’s inventiveness and Manu’s athleticism. Because no matter how great it looks on paper, throwing that baseline pass (and getting there in the first place) takes a lot of skill.

  • Wayne

    Jwalt, that was Sacramento in ’06, I believe. Game 1 in SA.

    They run this one a lot at the end of games. With a little variation.

    Nice breakdown Andrew.

    I’d also point out that it is Keith Bogans ridiculous wandering on the pick that really breaks down the Bulls defense.

  • doggydogworld

    I think Brent Barry’s shot came vs. Sacramento, not Phoenix.

  • junierizzle

    Yeah that was against SAC.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    Finley hit a 3 at the end of regulation against the Lakers (08 I think) to send the game to overtime.

    Spurs also ran the play at the end of the game vs the Knicks once.

    It worked both times. It’s a great play and I’m surprised opposing coaches haven’t figured it out yet.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    “The thing about this play is that everyone knows what the Spurs are going to do, but seeing a player jump out of bounds to make the pass is so unnatural, it’s almost difficult to defend”

    I guess it depends on the situation. If the Spurs are down 3 with the clock close to zero, it shouldn’t work well. All the defenders should do is let Manu have an open path to the rim and the ballgame is an entry pass from being over.

    But you’re right. I’ve seen it still work when down by 3. Teams just can’t seem to help themselves from cheating towards the driver and leaving that 3 shot available.

  • Jacques

    Just finished watching Spurs v. Wolves. My goodness what a game, my heartbeat was going crazy!

  • Mike M – NY

    I am really pleased by our reliance to comeback and win after being down 21. I think it’s great to know that our beloved organization has the fortitude to be patient and let this team develop. I am really enjoying this season a lot more than last season, but I am sure the guys on the team are enjoying it more. These are the type of wins that will help us after the next 69 games are played.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  • bongraider

    i think they executed this play against minnesota, this time with RJ as the recipient. Although the result was a loose ball since manu’s defender fouled him, he did get the ball to RJ. Very unnatural and unnerving play. That Manu pass from out of bounds makes it hard for an a defender to intercept the pass because of the chances of it going out of bounds if he touches it. Plus, the spacing it creates once the wing player gets it is huge.