End of Game Execution

Posted by on March 4, 2013

Over the weekend, I tweeted about late game execution in the NBA versus the NCAA. It seemed like this weekend especially, coaches were unable to help their teams execute down the stretch to win close games. We saw this in the Michigan-Michigan State game, but also in many games across the country. The two I picked out were both games tied at the end of regulation with the shot clock off. In these games, Villanova and Northern Arizona were unable to get a solid shot off and both games went into overtime.

In the NBA, the Nuggets beat the Thunder this weekend on a Ty Lawson buzzer beater. I also remembered a play in a Spurs-Cavs game from a few weeks ago where the Spurs were equally as effective in late game execution getting an open Kawhi Leonard three for the win.

I broke down these plays to get a look at what NCAA coaches are doing wrong. In Sunday’s Villanova-Pittsburgh game, Jay Wright drew up a high pick and roll for Ryan Arcidiacono. The same type of play the Spurs ran for Tony Parker. Take a look at the spacing for the Spurs compared to Villanova.

The Spurs leave the paint completely open and surround the arc with three point shooters. The three Cavs players not directly involved in the pick and roll have to respect the player they are guarding and can’t help on Parker. When Parker gets into the lane, Dion Waiters is forced to make a decision to either stop the ball or stop Kawhi Leonard in the corner. He really didn’t do either, and Leonard nailed the three.

On the other hand, Arcidiacono has nowhere to go for Villanova. He is driving hard left right into the Pittsburgh defender on the block. The play had very little chance from the start of getting a good look.

Northern Arizona had similar spacing problems in their end of game play against Weber State. They elected not to take a timeout and drove towards the hoop, but right into a congested area.

Below are videos comparing the end of game execution for the two NCAA teams and the two NBA teams. The videos are annotated and are self-explanatory, but you can clearly see that NBA teams are much better prepared for theses types of the situations. The Nuggets play may have impressed me the most, because they not only set a ball screen, but they also set a clever screen on Durant who was the hedger defending the pick and roll. Sefolosha recognized the play (possibly from scouting) and did a great job of helping, but the Thunder had to perfectly defend the play in order to stop it. See the videos below:

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