The Spurs bench carves up the Rockets
As the Spurs ran away with the game on Friday night against the Houston Rockets, we were treated with plenty of court time once again for the Spurs reserves, also known as the Garbage Time All-Stars. One of the best plays last night, outside of one of the greatest dunks of all-time, involved said Spurs reserves.
Late in the third quarter, the Spurs got a layup on a beautiful secondary break. It started off like many Spurs possessions. Nando De Colo brought the ball up in transition, and Tiago Splitter gets in position to set an early pick for De Colo, something the Spurs really like to do.
You can see here Splitter getting in position to set a screen on Houston’s Carlos Delfino (#10), who picked up De Colo in transition. Greg Smith (#4) is the man guarding Splitter.
This is the key movement in the possession. Splitter recognizes that Smith is overplaying on the pick, andnstead of putting a body on Delfino, Splitter dives to the basket.
By making that cut to the basket, Splitter sucks in James Harden on the weakside. Harden’s responsibility is Manu Ginobili in the opposite corner, but once Splitter makes that dive to the rim, Harden has to come over and prevent Splitter from being open for a wide open layup. By doing that, the Rockets defense is off-balance and immediately one step behind the Spurs’ attack.
I’m not sure how much responsibility falls on the shoulders of Toney Douglas, whose man is Patty Mills. With Harden having come across the lane to slow Splitter, Douglas could have / should have dropped a little to try and stay between Harden and the ball, while still being able to keep an eye on Mills. Again, I’m not sure how the Rockets would prefer to play that situation.
From there, Manu gets the ball in the corner, via a nice pass from Nando, with Harden closing out hard. Manu gives a good shot fake, actually only keeping one foot on the ground, and gets by Harden. Again the Rockets are slow to rotate. You can see here that Greg Smith has to come up to cut off Ginobili’s drive. Patrick Patterson (#54) is in no man’s land. His man is Boris Diaw, who’s out on the perimeter. Splitter is in the short corner, ready to receive the pass from Manu, but Patterson is just hanging in the lane guarding no one in particular.
Once Splitter gets the pass from Manu, he gives a subtle shoulder fake that gets both Patterson and Smith in the air. The key piece in this part of the play is that Splitter doesn’t shuffle his feet while waiting for Smith and Patterson to land. So many times unpolished big men get impatient and travel in those situations. Kudos to Splitter for his discipline in that instance.
The result is a basket that gave the Spurs a 25-point lead and people like me an aesthetically pleasing moment of basketball.