Scott Brooks Breaking Down Last-Second Sets
Last night’s game-tying 3-pointer by Kevin Durant was fascinating on so many levels.
Of course, there was the entertainment aspect of Durant’s clutch shot. But more significantly, the set that coach Scott Brooks ran was the most intriguing thing of all. Brooks could have done so many different things — a drive-and-kick with Russell Westbrook, an iso with Durant, used Durant as a decoy to get someone else a look — but he decided to go with a play that has become KD’s bread and butter.
A simple catch-and-shoot look off a screen.
As it fell through the net, a whole bunch of questions crossed my mind. The biggest being, why doesn’t the Thunder use Durant like that more often in late-game situations? I spoke with Brooks about the play at practice today and he took the time to share some insight into his though process during these situations. Here’s what he had to say.
There are so many variables that take place in late-game situations. And myself and the other 29 teams are no different. You have to factor everything in. When it’s a tie score, it’s hard to run an equal opportunity offense and get the last shot to the player that you want taking the shot. When it’s a tied score like the other night (against Phoenix), you run it down because you want to make sure that you do get the last shot. So a pin-down play cannot guarantee you getting that shot. So that’s how we do it. We give the best players an opportunity to make the play.
Brooks said Wednesday night was different because the Thunder was down three and had to get a quick shot.
I put two of our best screeners in the game, Nick (Collison) and Serge (Ibaka), and (Kevin) had an opportunity to go off either one. Serge set a great screen and (Kevin) stepped up and hit the shot. It’s always about getting a decent look, and very rarely are you going to get a decent look unless somebody just absolutely messes up on the defensive end.
Brooks went on to explain why Wednesday night’s set might not work if the game is tied, essentially echoing the response Durant had following the Suns game when he explained that teams typically switch on screens.
If the score is tied and you run a pin-down play, who has the ball? If Russell has the ball, what happens if they switch out on the pin-down and deny Kevin the ball. So now that play is gone. Now everybody is in a bad position and it’s going to be a put your head down and try to make a play (situation) for Russell. So you try to set your team up so that everybody knows where they’re going to be so if it does break down at least you have some guys spaced out.
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