I'm taking over description duties for the Spurs vs Celtics for Chris Itz today. Hope you don't mind. It was a Spurs-from-behind game that they took a big lead in, only to have the visitors come back and make it close. If you haven't read Michael Erler's recap or Brett Jones' Study Hall, you should do that. Now let's get down to it.
The first play begins with Manu Ginobili breaking down the defense and causing havoc in the Celtics' responsibilities, but the subtle brilliance comes as Manu goes to his right, causing Avery Bradley to leave Patty Mills. As soon as his defender turns his head, Mills mirrors Manu's drift to receive a pass for an open three. Notice Bradley as he realizes -- too late -- that Manu is passing to his man.
Mills' shot misses, but David West does a great job to get position in a near-direct line to be able to see that Patty's shot is off line. West elevates, takes a two-handed shove in his chest, adjusts to his new trajectory and the ricocheting ball to tip it in with one hand. Pretty slick.
Here the Celtics have been caught in a switch, with Jonas Jerekbo stuck guarding Ginobili. As the shot clock ticks down, Manu backs up about as far as I've ever seen him, knowing he has a mismatch. All that remains is something we've seen him do countless times: break down his man, draw another defender and pass across his body, this time to a wide open Boris Diaw who cans the three.
Now it's time to geek out over Kawhi Leonard's continued development. He's handling the ball in a pick and roll with David West, and when both defenders stick to Kawhi, West rolls through the lane. But the Celtics defend this play really well, only allowing a tiny window of space for a pass. No worries. Kawhi looks off West, and delivers a pinpoint perfect no-look pocket pass just past the grasp of Jae Crowder, which David West takes up for a basket and one.
You should be prepared to watch this one a few times as it's s major league assist from a guy not known for being a creator.
Ahh, it's just another one of those plays where Boris Diaw receives the ball at the three point line and works his way to a point blank score, right? Not exactly. While Bobo does drive down the right side of the lane to the edge of the restricted area to put Kelly Olynyk on his back, that's where things get unique. Olynyk does a great job of both holding his ground against Boris' pressure, and not falling for any fakes.
But Diaw realizes that nothing besides a legit shot will get Kelly off his feet, so he just shoots a fully extended over-the-back flip shot under the arm of Olynyk. While the shot is a thing of beauty, perhaps my favorite part of this play is watching the Celtics defenders refusing to leave their men to double Diaw. It's almost as if you can see them thinking of this play, and not wanting to get burned the way that Chris Bosh was.
Now we move from GIFs to videos, and from offense to defense. Just watch how Manu, LaMarcus, Boris, Kawhi and Patty deal with this attempted postup and force a low-percentage jumper.
Finally, here's a glimpse at Aldridge's huge 2nd quarter. He scored 12 points in the frame, and here are a couple of lefty drives into pull-up jumpers, and a quality post from the right block -- you know, the side he hardly ever shot from in Portland.
Huge props go to Chris Itz for creating the GIFs and videos -- especially the Kawhi to West assist, which had to be cobbled together in order to see that awesome pass.