Friday March 20th, 2015

The NBA regular season operates at a frenzied pace, with one game and storyline bleeding into the next. Every Friday here at, 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...

• Pliability. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, long established as one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, is wreaking havoc by stepping outside his nominal position. On this possession, he begins on Chris Paul (his cross-matched assignment), tags DeAndre Jordan to prevent a clean roll, and then recovers to Paul only to switch over to Blake Griffin. From there, Kidd-Gilchrist bodies and bothers Griffin more effectively than Marvin Williams—who switched out of the play—ever could:


• Teamwork. Enes Kanter and Russell Westbrook have been teammates for a month and they're already finishing each other's sentences:

• Timing. Had Reggie Jackson thrown a standard chest pass to the streaking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on this fast break, he would have found his teammate open in relatively good position to score. By throwing a long bounce pass instead, Jackson gives his teammate a beat to catch up—ensuring that his receipt comes closer to the basket thus removing the need for a dribble after:

• Control. When LeBron James works out of the post, you can almost see him pulling the defense’s strings:

• A change-up. What looks to be a right-handed baseball pass from Rajon Rondo to Chandler Parsons ends up as a featherlight, left-handed shovel pass to an even more open Dirk Nowitzki:

• Dimensional bending. I think that a triple-teamed Stephen Curry somehow squeezed a pass through the shoulder of Al Horford and the outstretched arm of Kent Bazemore to Andre Iguodala on this sequence, but the physics are a little fuzzy:

• Preemption. As a ground-bound big man who posts up at his own pace, ​Al Jefferson gets blocked plenty by help defenders who catch him unaware. He doesn’t, however, see his shot blocked often by the man who is actually guarding him—and even less so at the point of release as DeAndre Jordan does here:

• Opportunity in the slightest lapse. It’s tricky to throw a successful lead pass to a teammate after they’ve already been engaged by a rotating defender. Yet Hawks backup Shelvin Mack threads this feed in a way that sets up Al Horford just as Justin Holiday begins his recovery back out to the perimeter:

• Reflexes. Things don’t work out so well for the Mavericks on this possession, but what an incredible job by Monta Ellis to swat away a pass that under most normal circumstances would have soared over the top of the defense:

• The unanticipated. It’s not only the angle of a pass that can surprise, but also the delivery. Exhibit A from New York’s Shane Larkin:

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.