The Golden State Warriors are headed for the playoffs. At this point, this isn’t news anymore. This became a foregone conclusion on April 9 with a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The postseason path is lit up by the torch that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson both carry. The Splash Brothers have been incredible in the final month of the regular season.
They are closing out the season marvelously and making one thing abundantly clear: the playoff run will be decided by their play.
Their red-hot shooting has carried them for multiple stretches and given opponents fits.
Since the beginning of April, Curry has been producing 26.9 points and 8.6 assists per game on 48.2 percent field goal shooting and 45.7 percent shooting from downtown. Naturally, his shooting and ball-handling have made him a permanent fixture in the pick-and-roll.
He and David Lee have developed a great chemistry in the set and repeatedly find ways to maximize their scoring opportunities with this action.
Thompson is often the beneficiary when teams are foolish enough to rotate off him. Synergy Sports tells us he converts 46.2 percent of his 3-point shots in spot up opportunities.
But spot ups aren’t sufficient, which is why Mark Jackson puts his shooting guard in a series of off-ball screens to spring him free for jumpers he converts 39.6 percent of the time per Synergy Sports.
Jackson has slowly but surely found creative ways of exploiting the talent of Thompson on offense. As a result, he is scoring 19.6 points per game on 47.4 percent field goal shooting and 42.4 percent 3-point shooting this month.
Golden State figured out that their two best shooters might provide even more headaches than initially anticipated for opposing teams.
Jacob Frankel of Hoopchalk did an excellent job of breaking down the new wrinkle the Dubs have used on offense: the 1-2 pick-and-roll. They used it against the Los Angeles Lakers recently and Frankel shares his thoughts:
The first immediate thing that jumps out on this play: the Lakers have absolutely no idea how to defend it. Nearly every situation is defended differently, but the results are almost always the same. When the Lakers reverted to their pick and roll “defense” of the first quarter, Curry scored. Switch, and Thompson ends up with a very favorable matchup in the post. Try to hedge without switching and Thompson would slip the screen for an open jumper. It was a no win situation for LA.
Last night, Golden State went back to it and gave the Spurs fits. Thompson was simply unstoppable on the low block against smaller guards and repeatedly scored. Synergy Sports tells us the sharpshooter is converting 48 percent of his attempts in the post this season.
Consequently, it’s in the Warriors’ best interest to get him there on the regular. But this must happen whilst giving him an advantage in this setting and the 1-2 pick-and-roll does just that.
As Golden State finds ways to become seemingly indefensible, opponents will be forced into adjustments in their game plan they may not be completely great at executing. This can be a huge advantage in postseason play.
After all, manufacturing high percentage looks for your best players can only be a good thing right?
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