The Warriors pulled out the victory thanks to a sweet pass from Jarrett Jack to Draymond Green that led him directly into his shot attempt and a score with less than a second left on the game clock for the game-winning basket.
The pass by Jack was terrific but it was also a great microcosm of the Warriors’ play in the fourth quarter.
The Miami Heat had some relatively good offensive sets in the final period, but around the four-minute mark, they opted to instead put the ball in the hands of either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to run pick-and-rolls and then probe the defense to attack it at its weakest points.
The strategy can be a good one, provided that there is constant ball movement and that players are moving into different positions on the court.
The Warriors hedged and recovered on a few possessions and it resulted in some turnovers for the Heat and as the game unfolded in the late stages, they exclusively began switching on ball screens.
On a few possessions, James looked for driving angles after David Lee switched out on him but found none and thus settled for long contested jump shots. On other occasions, the Heat tried to take advantage of a defense that titled towards the ball handler and made two great passes down the stretch — one to Ray Allen and another to Shane Battier — for open corner 3-pointers. On both occasions, the Heat misfired.
Mark Jackson essentially banked on the fact that Miami would run a quick pick-and-roll and then play isolation basketball and live with the results of getting beat from deep.
However, on the other side of the ball, Jackson chose a completely different path than the Heat as well as many other teams in the NBA, when he opted for the basic principle of running plays in crunch time instead of just giving the ball to one of his guys and asking him to create offense all on his own.
The end result was that although the Warriors missed a few shots in the clutch, they got a multitude of high percentage shots directly in the paint. Jack orchestrated the offense beautifully as he ran pick-and-rolls but also had shooters run off screens to keep the entire Heat defense occupied.
Thus, he was able to get into the lane on a few occasions and even found Lee a few times rolling to the basket for shot attempts right at the basket.
And again, that’s the beauty of the final offensive play for the Warriors last night.
They stayed true to their philosophy and once again ran a play designed to get a shooter free and had the player who set the screen for the said shooter dive to the basket for a quick catch and finish right at the rim to win the game.
Both teams employed completely different strategies down the stretch, and truly the game could have gone either way. However, Golden State opted to go inside while Miami chose the route of the perimeter jumper and the Warriors were better for it.
Styles make fights, and this case, it made for a quite great one for the Golden State Warriors.
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