While You Weren't Watching: Manu's vision, Randolph's jam and more
The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. Every Friday here at SI.com, we'll slow things down in While You Weren't Watching—a spotlight on the little moments in the week's slate that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. Here's what you may have missed...
• Foresight. Manu Ginobili was nearly sidelined for Thursday's game against the Cavs with a stomach flu. Instead he opted for an IV, ran some sprints before entering the game, and then threw this pass:
• Hangtime. Famed leaper Zach Randolph shocked the world this week by attempting a dunk rather than a near-flat-footed layup. This was just Randolph’s sixth dunk of the season, and the Grizzlies’ bench (Tony Allen, who prances down the sideline, first and foremost) celebrated accordingly:
• Design. Good stuff from the oft-criticized Monty Williams here, who designed a series of screens that scrambled Milwaukee’s defenders and freed up Anthony Davis—now one of the best mid-range shooters in the league—for an open elbow look:
• Truth to character. No force on this Earth can stop Nate Robinson from being Nate Robinson.
• Mismatch as a platform. The exploiting of a switch-created mismatch all but requires isolation. To introduce other action risks bringing more defenders to the ball and the opportunity to either switch out of the mismatch or challenge it with a strong double team. As a result, the working of this particular advantage tends to manifest as one player dribbling or posting while his teammates’ watch, stationary and removed.
Clever offensive players can toy with this expectation as Ersan Ilyasova does here. Ilyasova’s defender (David West) doesn’t even glance his way once the ball is entered to Zaza Pachulia in the post against C.J. Watson. A hard cut down the middle takes advantage that lapse, all as West is barking orders to his teammates on how to handle the post:
• Salvage. This possession really should have ended with Andre Iguodala’s crummy jump pass, yet Draymond Green gets just enough of a grip on the ball as it bounces into the backcourt as to avoid infraction. The ball even comes back to Green to create later in the sequence, though he makes the mistake of throwing a low lob to ‘Stone Hands’ Festus Ezeli:
• Dabbling in a higher degree of difficulty. Boston’s Tyler Zeller typically keeps it simple as a scorer, though on this play he turned his trailing position on the break into a really challenging runner over the outstretched arms of Marc Gasol. Between the angle, the bank, and the full-speed cut, it’s a wonder that this thing went down:
• Seasoning. Hawks' Kent Bazemore has come into his own this season as a player Atlanta can rely on to hit open shots and maximize his opportunities. On a game-to-game basis Bazemore does all sorts of little, athletic things that make a difference in the final balance. Here it translates overtly with a quick, decisive drive to counteract the momentum lost in a deflected pass:
• An open lane. Rodney Stuckey has turned in an incredible month of basketball—perhaps the best of his career to date. Opposing defenders are having the damnedest time staying in front of him off the dribble, and in the case of this possession, even two trapping defenders run into trouble: